5 men arrested for alleged sexual assault of boys at Quebec schools dating back to the '60s
MASCOUCHE, QUE. -- Provincial police have arrested five members of a Quebec congregation at the organization's retirement home in connection with sex crimes against young boys that allegedly took place between 1961 and 1989.
“Today, it's been over 35 years,” one of the alleged victims told CTV on Tuesday. “To see some arrests, it’s touching, it’s a relief.”
There is already a class action lawsuit by approximately 270 alleged victims against the same organization, the Clerics of St-Viateur, but the police operation is a new development.
The five men were members of the Saint-Viateur Clerics congregation, responsible for teaching boys in several Quebec schools.
The alleged crimes took place in Rigaud in the Montérégie region, Pohénégamook in Témiscouata, Matane in the Gaspésie and Minerve in the Laurentians.
Police say the men have been living together at the congregation's seniors' residence in Joliette, about 50 km northeast of Montreal.
Jean Pilon, 78; Gérard Whissell, 81; Roger Larue, 88; Laurent Madore, 83; and Raoul Jomphe, 86 are expected to face about 30 charges total, including gross indecency and sexual assault.
The charges were filed based on those that existed when the alleged crimes took place, police said, despite the fact that, as the criminal code has been updated, some of those charges no longer exist today in the same form.
After the accused are questioned at police headquarters, they will appear before a judge over the phone.
A lawyer representing the alleged victims said there’s no wrong way or wrong time to try to address historical abuse.
“I think each victim can choose the voice, the way to heal,” said Justin Wee.
“They can go follow a therapy. They can also file a lawsuit. They can also call the police. And I’m very happy for them that the police officers listened to all these complaints, because it’s difficult, and it’s especially a more difficult case when it happened more than 30 years ago.”
The alleged victim said he hoped to send the same message to anyone else who had had a similar experience.
“I want to give hope to other victims that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, that you make your own life,” he said.
Several victims have been identified so far and police are asking anyone who has information to communicate with them by calling 1-800-659-4264.
In a statement, the Clerics of St-Viateur said it was collaborating with the police and justice system, but it otherwise declined to comment due to the ongoing legal case.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.