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Simonin will serve his sentence in the community

Sylvain Daignault

Found guilty in December 2006 of acts of sexual abuse of a minor – acts which took place between 1985 and 1992 – Marcel Simonin, 67 years old, formerly an Elder among the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Châteauguay at the time of the crimes, has been sentenced to serve nine months in prison. He will serve the sentence in the community.

Simonin received his sentence last Wednesday at the Châteauguay Court House. At the time of the initial incidents of assault, the victim – a young girl – was only 11 years old.

The mother of the young victim met the individual – who at that time was an Elder, that is to say that he was an instructor at church meetings – at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Châteauguay. He taught the precepts of their way of life and spiritually counseled members of the congregation.

After gaining the confidence of this woman and of her daughter, he proceeded to engage in multiple incidents of intimate contact with the adolescent. The incidents included improper touching to full sexual intercourse.

For eight years, the assaults took place in several locations; notably, in the defendant’s home, in his car, at the home of the young girl and in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Châteauguay.

In her verdict, Judge Linda Despots - of the Criminal and Penal Chamber of Court - noted that the victim had lodged a complaint at the age of 16 or 17, but later withdrew that complaint as “she felt pressured by the elders who met with her and by the threat of being disfellowshipped.”

It was another Elder, in the Québec region where the mother and the complainant had moved, who persuaded her to write a letter to the elders in the previous Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning her experiences with the accused.

Following receipt of that letter, Simonin telephoned his victim to apologize for the events, after admitting to the accusations. The complainant, allegedly, then forgave him.

However, when in 2003 the young girl again saw the accused during a Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the Olympic Stadium in Montréal, his presence re-opened her wounds and caused her to re-live the feeling of guilt that she experienced during the years when she had been victimized by the abuse. The young girl then had some difficult years during which she attempted suicide on three occasions and submitted herself to psychological treatment.

In 2005, in order to continue her therapy and to free herself the young girl decided again to file a complaint against her molester.

Deciding that the credibility of the accused – who has continued to deny the criminal charges – was, for several reasons, tainted, the Court found Marcel Simonin guilty of sexual assault by reason of Articles 246.1(1)a), 271(1)a) et 153(1)a) of the Criminal Code.

Before 1996, a person found guilt of a criminal offense and sentenced to a prison term of less than 2 years had to serve his custodial sentence in prison. Today, a person who is sentenced to a prison term of less than 2 years can serve that sentence in the community, if the court deems that a suspended remand to prison is inappropriate.

Le Soleil [i.e., the reporter] tried in vain to contact the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Châteauguay last Thursday to obtain a response. Officially, Jehovah’s Witnesses say they oppose pedophilia.




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