The “minimized” version of the abuse committed on their children by a pastor from the South Shore of Montreal and his wife was dismissed out of hand by a judge, who deplored their “relentlessness” and their “lack of accountability and introspection ”.
“The degree of responsibility of the accused is entire, ruled Wednesday Judge Marc-Antoine Carette, at the Longueuil courthouse. The court takes into account the significant psychological consequences related to the physical abuse experienced by the victims. ”
Photo Chantal Poirier Julie Laborde
The children who lodged a complaint against Mario Monette and Carole Van Houtte heaved a huge sigh of relief when they heard the magistrate render his decision, in which he had to indicate which version of the facts was accepted.
The couple had pleaded guilty last week to a spate of assault with a weapon on their eight children, forcible confinement and threats of death or causing bodily harm, claiming it was an educational method.
The judge listed many aggravating factors against the accused couple on which he will base his sentence, but he did not elaborate on the reasons supporting his partial verdict.
“Almost daily frequency”
The magistrate put forward the long period of infringement going from the years 1980 to 2004, as well as the large number of victims and their age at the time of the facts, that is to say severe corrections undergone from the age of 3 years until the 'adolescence.
“[I retain] the almost daily frequency of physical abuse, as well as the force used during the physical corrections was unreasonable,” said Judge Carette. The court takes into account the large number of beatings as well as the use of sticks and the belt. ”
He also addressed the couple's “relentlessness”, in particular with the existence of a rule according to which they repeated the punishment on a child who fidgeted too much while being hit.
“The court takes into account the fact that the accused minimized their participation in the crime due to the lack of accountability and introspection,” said Justice Carette.
This is what the Crown prosecutor in the case, Me Julie Laborde, pleaded earlier today.
“You have two individuals who minimize not only the range of gestures, but also the nature, the magnitude, the seriousness. They do not understand it, because they are morally convinced of having done good, because it is biblical ”, she affirmed in her plea.
Me Laborde said she was “satisfied” that the judge believed the victims and accepted all of the evidence she presented.
Defense lawyers, Katherine Labelle and Mathieu Poissant, argued that the defendants had admitted their guilt for having sometimes “exceeded the limits”, but that this was not always the case.
“There were excesses at times and that's why they pleaded guilty,” said Me Labelle. The idea behind correction was an educational method to correct behavior. […] The goal was to pinch, but not to hurt. ”
► Mario Monette and Carole Van Houtte will return to court at the end of November. A psychological report concerning them will be presented and discussed. It is also at this time that the pleadings for the sentence to be inflicted on them will take place.