The alleged victim of the former journalist and columnist of the Duty Michel Venne, who is facing sexual accusations, was “disturbed and shocked” by the actions taken against her in 2008 by a man for whom she had “great respect”.
At the time, the 17-year-old – who revolves around the artistic community and whose identity is protected by a court order – was an intern at the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM), an organization founded by Venne who assumed the functions of director.
In the summer of the alleged acts, INM employees traveled to the Old Capital to hold the “Summer School”, a citizen event during which young people were invited to discuss social and economic issues.
As an intern, the complainant, now aged 29, was to assist Venne, which she considered “an honor”.
However, she quickly became disillusioned when the first time, in a taxi, he “put a hand on my thigh, near my vagina” and a second time when, near the hotel where she was staying, he put a hand on my thigh. hand on his hip and on his private parts.
“I was completely frozen and disgusted by that … He tried to put his hand in my pants and there, I said no … It really sickened me!”, Told the young woman to the judge Stéphane Poulin with difficulty holding back his tears.
Following these events, if the alleged victim said that she had made some verbalizations to her mother and to a colleague, she mostly kept silent, not realizing that she had “experienced an assault”.
# Aggression Not Denounced
In the fall of 2008, Venne allegedly asked her “to forget the unfortunate events” that allegedly occurred in Quebec City and then, a little later, when she saw him participate in a conference where it was about sexual assault. , she reacted.
“I emailed him telling him that I found him hypocritical to be there and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about,” she testified.
After having mentioned it a few times, and following the wave of denunciations that swept in 2014 with the movement “Aggression Not Denounced, the young woman decided to speak a little more openly.
It was in October 2017 that she finally filed a complaint. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.
“To harm his friend”
When the complainant began to open up a little more about the assaults she allegedly suffered from Michel Venne, Lise Payette, then a columnist at the Duty, would have invited the young girl to be cautious, so as not to “harm her friend”.
Six years after the assaults she says she suffered in Quebec, the alleged victim of Michel Venne told the Tribunal that over the years, her “thinking” had progressed and that if, in 2008, she did not really know what sexual assault, this was no longer the case in 2014.
“At that time, following the Ghomeshi affair, the victims were speaking out. It touched me because I told myself that I was not the only one. I wrote a blog, without naming Mr. Venne then a tweet that I quickly deleted, ”she said.
A few minutes later, a friend, Mitsou Gélinas, called him to ask him what she was going to do then, in 2015, Lise Payette, former Minister of State for the Status of Women, invited him to her condo in the ‘Isle des Soeurs for tea.
While the meeting was courteous and pleasant at the start, she noticed a change in tone during the conversation.
“She told me he was on the verge of suicide and depression because of it,” she testified. It was at this time that the lady allegedly suggested that he write a letter to Michel Venne’s family to “apologize” for having wronged him.
“I was very intimidated and disappointed that she told me that … I was confused, but I agreed to sign the letter she dictated to me … With hindsight, I would not have had to accept, ”she added.
When leaving Lise Payette’s house, she called her mother and her journalist friend Patrick Lagacé to confide in her.
In 2017, the young woman contacted the then 86-year-old lady to try to understand why she had “advised” her not to bring the case to court. A conversation recorded without Lise Payette’s knowledge and on which the judge will have to decide on the admissibility or not in evidence.
Who is Michel Venne?
Charge: Sexual assault and sexual exploitation
Age of victim: 17 years old
- journalist at Duty from 1990 to 2006.
- 2004: foundation of the Institut du Nouveau Monde.
Married, he is the father of two children