Alleged sexual assault victims of late Montreal police officer and hockey coach will get day in court
LONGUEUIL, QUE. -- The victims of former police officer Francois Lamarre, who died last July at the age of 71, will finally be able to be heard by the courts.
Superior Court Judge Pierre Gagnon has authorized the class action suit requested by those he allegedly sexual assaulted, who are claiming close to $11 million from his estate, but mostly from the City of Longueuil.
"We're really happy and we can talk about a resounding and important victory, especially now that the judge has recognized that it can go forward as a class action," said lawyer Pierre Boivin, when contacted by The Canadian Press.
The class action, which is being brought on behalf of one of the victims, John Cormier, could include hundreds of victims of the alleged sexual predator, who allegedly operated from about 1970 to 2000 as a field hockey coach in the South Shore town of Greenfield Park.
That municipality has since been amalgamated with Longueuil, which inherited its legal obligations at the same time.
"The problem with Francois Lamarre is that for three decades, he was able to systematically assault children with impunity in full view of everyone and that no one reacted, unfortunately, on the part of the City of Greenfield Park," said Boivin.
"There was no mechanism to ensure that Francois Lamarre was not a pedophile, was not a child molester, and there were no mechanisms in place to prevent these assaults," he added.
ACCUSED BUT NOT CONVICTED BEFORE DYING
Boivin said hundreds of young people suffered abuse from Lamarre, a former Montreal police officer, who was awaiting trial for nine charges of a sexual nature.
He was arrested in December 2019 and appeared at the Longueuil courthouse on charges of sexual assault, gross indecency, indecent assault, touching a part of the body of a person under 14 years of age for a sexual purpose, and inviting, engaging or inducing a person under 14 years of age to touch him for a sexual purpose.
The alleged crimes were committed between 1972 and 1997 against four boys, aged nine to 16 at the time, in the accused's home, in his car and in arenas.
Lamarre retired from the Montreal Police Department in 1994.
The City of Longueuil's obligations have yet to be determined as it seeks to narrow the group of people eligible for the class action.
"The city was suggesting that the members who could sue in the class action would be only those who were members of Mr. Lamarre's field hockey teams," said the lawyer.
In the case against him, some of the alleged victims were not members of the teams he coached, but children living in the same neighbourhood as him.
No date has yet been set for the hearing of the case.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021.