A Catholic brother who taught at Collège Notre-Dame decades ago and admitted on Tuesday to having sexually abused a teenage boy at the school has been sentenced to 15 months of house arrest.
Using a walker and unable to meet the usual Montreal courthouse requirement to stand, Olivain Leblanc, 75, sat while he pleaded guilty to one count of gross indecency.
Prosecutor Amélie Rivard explained that, between 1979 and 1981, the abuse involved oral sex and touching the student in a sexual manner when the victim was a young teenager. She also said the joint recommendation made on the sentence, along with defence lawyer Isabel Schurman, was agreed upon during a long facilitation process where negotiations where held before a different Quebec Court judge outside of a courtroom.
“Nothing can repair (the victim),” Rivard said while summarizing the difficulty the man went through after he was abused. In a story published in the Montreal Gazette in 2010, the victim said he lived a solitary life, wrestling with the psychological after-effects of what he experienced. He said he bounced from one dead-end job to another while his former classmates went on to become engineers, lawyers and doctors.
On Tuesday, the victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, made a brief statement before the Quebec Court judge agreed with the joint recommendation on the sentence that was presented to her.
“When I was expelled from Collège Notre-Dame, I went to see (Leblanc) and he said, ‘There is nothing I can do for you.’ Now it is my turn to say to him that there is nothing I can do for you,” the victim said.
As he approached the bench the victim looked directly toward Leblanc and was startled when the abuser said something to him as he walked by.
“What he said was, ‘It’s OK.’ It was his way of saying to me, ‘Go ahead and say what you have to say,’ ” the victim explained later outside the courtroom.
Leblanc also made a statement to the court and apologized directly to the victim and his mother, who is now deceased.
Leblanc will have to spend the first seven months of the sentence at his residence all day except for specific circumstances. He will have to respect a curfew for the last eight months of the sentence. He will also be on Canada’s sex offender registry for 20 years. Schurman said her client has difficulty walking, suffers from diabetes, depression and has a problem with his prostate.
“I am satisfied (with the sentence) in the sense that Brother Leblanc has serious health problems. I don’t want to criticize the work done by the prosecutor either because a lot of work was done (on the file). We’re talking about five years now (Leblanc was charged in 2012). That’s very long,” the victim said, adding he believes Leblanc was sincere in his apology “up to a certain point.”
The victim was accompanied in court by Sue Montgomery, a former Montreal Gazette reporter who, in 2009, won the Judith Jasmin award, Quebec’s most prestigious journalism award, for her exposé of child molestation by clergy at Montreal’s Collège Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions in the 1970s. Last week, Montgomery was elected as borough mayor of the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.