Killed cult leader's sons speak out

Toronto Sun/March 12, 2011

Montreal - Francois Theriault, son of former cult leader, Roch "Moses" Theriault, said he wasn't surprised when he heard his father was found dead in his jail cell earlier this year.

"We knew that it was going to happen one day or another," he said, adding that what did surprise him was that his father hadn't been killed earlier.

François, along with his brother Roch-Sylvain, gave an exclusive interview to QMI Agency Friday night about his father, who led a religious cult in Quebec and Ontario during the 1980s.

Theriault, known as Moses, manipulated and physically abused his followers, including hacking a woman's right arm off. In 1988, he used a knife to disembowel his wife Solange Boilard during a cult ritual.

He was sentenced to life in prison for her murder in 1993.

In late February, Theriault was killed by a fellow inmate at Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick. He was 63.

Roch-Sylvain said that although he understands how people could rejoice at the demise of his father, "I never wanted it to end this way."

Since they were young, Theriault's two sons lived in horror.

It began in 1980, when the young boys joined their father's commune in Quebec.

Almost immediately the boys were subjected to their father's violent, drunken and sexual acts.

"I was so scared of him when I was small," said Francois, "He would say my name and I would tremble like a leaf."

When their father drank, his sons knew he would pay them a "visit."

And they weren't the only ones in the commune Theriault would visit when drunk. François and Roch-Sylvain remember the disembowelling of Solange Boilard.

"He was a shark," said Francois, "he needed to see blood."

In spite of their childhood, the two men took back control of their lives. In 2009, they published a book about their experience. They said that talking publicly about their father frees them from the horrors they lived through.

And although the memories of their violent childhood will never leave them, they claim they won't pass anything on to their children.

"My little girl was looking at me," said Francois, "and I told her that she'll never have to experience anything like that with me."

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