Quebec Court of Appeal overturns conditional discharge of man convicted of sexual assault IG News

IG news Update,

A Quebec man who was given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to sexual assault and voyeurism will spend a year behind bars after an appeals court overturned the ruling.

In April 2019, Simon Houllé, a 27-year-old mechanical engineering student at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, sexually assaulted a sleeping woman during a party in an apartment and took several photographs of her private parts.

He pleaded guilty to the charges in 2021.

The Crown sought an 18-month sentence for him. However, in a ruling handed down last June, Quebec Court Judge Mathieu Poliquin granted Houle a conditional discharge with three months’ probation.

In his ruling, Poliquin said that a criminal record would have a “significant effect” on Hawley’s career. This has prompted many advocates for sexual assault survivors to say that punishment downplays the seriousness of sexual assault and may contribute to victims’ hesitation to come forward with their complaints.

The Director of Criminal and Criminal Prosecutions (DPCP) appealed the verdict last December, saying Hawley’s sentence underestimated the serious circumstances of his crimes.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the DPCP.

The court sentenced Houley to 12 months in prison for one count of sexual assault and two months for one count of eavesdropping. The sentences will run concurrently, meaning Hawley will serve a total of one year in prison.

The court said in its judgment that the conditional discharge in this case undermines public confidence in the administration of justice.

“The sexual act committed by Hawley is not frivolous and increases the risk of harm to the victim,” the judgment said.

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