Serial molester and former residential school supervisor Paul Leroux is heading back to jail. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal increased Leroux’ sentence to eight years in jail for the crimes he committed against the young boys at Beauval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. Leroux, who had previously been sentenced to three years in jail, was out on day parole after serving 10 months, and on full parole after serving one year of a three-year-sentence.
In an unusual set of circumstances the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal heard two appeals related to Leroux’ 2013 trial: one an appeal by the self-represented Leroux against his convictions, and the other by the Crown against the three-year sentence.
The court’s decision was released yesterday (05 May 2015). One of Leroux’ convictions has been overturned, and his sentence has been increased to eight years.
As promised, the court’s decision is now posted:
05 May 2015: Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision 05 May 2015: on Leroux’ appeal, one conviction quashed; on Crown’s appeal , sentence increased from three to eight years and Leroux ordered to report to RCMP or police within two days of ruling (meaning back to jail).
The document is worth a read. The following are a few excerpts from the 48-page document which caught my eye:
(1) Reasons for acquittal on previous conviction on Count 4 (the bracketed numbers reference first the page number, and second the para number)
– “While a witness may not tell the truth for any number of reasons, inconsistencies in a witness’s evidence given at different times is not necessarily indicative of falsehoods. The trier of fact must decide whether — and notwithstanding such things as inconsistencies — to believe the witness, in whole, in part, or not at all” (page 17 – 38)
– “I find the judge erred because the evidence does not support his conclusions as to the facts of the assault.” (page 18 – 39)
– “Mr. Leroux’s appeal from conviction with respect to T.F. is allowed, the
conviction is quashed and an acquittal shall be entered on that charge. His
appeals from the other convictions are dismissed.” (Page 48 – 99)
– “Mr. Leroux shall have two clear days from the date hereof to report to the nearest detachment of the RCMP or a local police service.” (Page 48 – 101)
(2) Reasons for increasing sentence from three to eight years (the bracketed numbers reference first the page number, and second the para number)
– “I have no hesitation disturbing the sentence imposed after trial because it is, in my assessment, demonstrably unfit on all of the footings set forth in R v M.(C.A.). It is unfit because the sentencing judge committed fundamental errors of principle, overlooked aggravating factors, and misapprehended factors as mitigating when they were not, all of which led him to craft a sentence that does not reflect the gravity of the offences and the responsibility of the offender in committing them.” (Page 20- 21 46)
– “…the general context in which Mr. Leroux committed his offences lends significant gravity to them. In broad terms, the physical and sexual abuse that occurred at Indian residential schools is grimmer by reason of the exceptionally vulnerable nature of its
victims and the utter imbalance of power as between the Aboriginal victims of that abuse and their families, on the one hand, and the church, the state, and their respective agents — the latter of which usually includes the abuser — on the other. In this way, the general context must also factor into any assessment of Mr. Leroux’s responsibility for ommitting these crimes, i.e., it speaks to his moral culpability. This is so because, by reason of the Indian residential school system, Mr. Leroux knew he could abuse the children in his charge — largely with impunity — and he did so in violation of the trust reposed in him by virtue of that system and in violation of his duty to protect the children in his care.” (Page 22 – 49)
– “…the judge screened the crafting of what he saw as a fit sentence through a sieve of
the errors he committed in his assessment of these aggravating and mitigating circumstances.”
– “In its practical result , the judge found the aggravating and mitigating circumstances in this case had no effect on the individual or overall duration of the sentences he imposed. This was because, even though he found more mitigating than aggravating circumstances, he concluded the aggravating ones were more severe and thereby “balance[d] out” the mitigating ones. He said nothing more on the subject. He simply did not increase or decrease the sentences on the basis of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances he had identified. As to this approach, I will simply say that the crafting of a fit sentencing is not a mathematical endeavour. It requires careful thought, meaningful consideration and, yes, an on-balance weighing of the mitigating and aggravating circumstances; but rarely — I expect — will such a process fail to give rise to some adjustment — whether up or down — to a sentence. If it did so here, then the judge ought to have explained that. Regardless, his approach — or the insufficiency of his written reasons — is largely irrelevant because the judge misconstrued so many of the circumstances before him as mitigating when they were not and minimised the nature of the circumstances he had correctly identified as aggravating. He thereby completely and improperly discounted the overall weight of the aggravating circumstances.” Page 24-25 – 55)
– “[the trial judge] failed to recognise as aggravating the fact Mr. Leroux had used alcohol to ply some of his victims and that these offences were recurring for some victims, sometimes over a span of years. These circumstances all counted toward an increased sentence.” Page 25 – 57)
– “…it appears the judge may have improperly weighed some mitigating circumstances
and misapprehended some neutral circumstances as counting in mitigation of sentence. Here, I refer to the fact Mr. Leroux had not offended in 40 years — some of which time he had spent in incarceration or on parole — which merits some credit , but is a minor consideration given that the instant circumstance s involve multiple offences committed in respect of multiple victims over multiple years.” (Page 26 – 58)
– “I also refer to the judge’s determination that Mr. Leroux’s public embarrassment at being charged with these offences somehow counted in his favour when it came to sentencing. This is a counterintuitive conclusion given the circumstances of the offences in this case elevate the objectives of denunciation and general deterrence to paramountcy in the crafting of fit sentences. Where this occurs, the impact of adverse publicity on the offender will normally have little weight. So too must fall the judge’s evaluation of the “public vilification and notoriety” that befell Mr. Leroux after his Grollier Hall onvictions as somehow operating in mitigation of his sentence for offences committed at the Beauval IRS. This is so because notoriety is a natural and public consequence of addressing the objective of general deterrence when sentencing for those offences.” (Page 26 – 59)
– “…the simple fact Mr. Leroux served a 10 -year sentence for the Grollier Hall offences is not mitigating per se. It could have no effect whatsoever on the gravity of his pre-occurring offences at the Beauval IRS or on his moral culpability in committing those offences.” (page 29 – 60)
– “…I conclude the judge completely misapprehended the circumstances in which Mr. Leroux came to be convicted in his court by saying Mr. Leroux ought to be credited
For returning to “face these charges and take responsibility for them.” He did nothing of the sort .” (Page 28 – 63)
– “As to the seriousness of these offences, the judge simply concluded that a “major sexual assault” was one that involved penetration and, on that basis, he divided the offences committed by Mr. Leroux into two broad classes: major sexual assaults (penetration) and those that were not (no penetration).”
– “This broad classification of the offences as major sexual assaults on the basis of penetration alone runs counter to this Court’s dictaon sentencing in cases of sexual assault” (Page 20 – 65.65)
– “…there is no basis for the judge’s apparent conclusion that the lesser of Mr. Leroux’s offences did not require a sentence in excess of two years less one day or for pinning the appropriate sentence at 18 months for the majority of the lesser sexual assaults in this matter. He seems to have arrived at this common sentence by referring to several cases involving isolated incidents of abuse of a single victim where the offender was not in a position of trust.” (Page 31 – 71)
– “As the aggregate of the consecutive sentences called for a 17 -year term of imprisonment, the trial judge addressed the totality principle of sentencing and ordered that Mr. Leroux should serve all of his sentences concurrently. In so doing, he simply said a 17-year sentence would be unduly harsh and so he summarily reduced it to the length of the longest of the consecutive sentences imposed, namely, three years’ imprisonment…….The reduction of the sentence here on the basis of the totality principal is in error.” (Page 34 78, 79)
– “I find that a cumulative sentence of eight years imprisonment is proportionate to the gravity of the offences committed by Mr. Leroux and his moral culpability in committing them. This sentence is fit because it recognises the seriousness of the offences, the ages of the victims, the repeated nature of the offences, the multiplicity of victims, the residential school context in which the offences were committed, the effects of the offences on the victims, the abuse of a position of trust in relation to the victims, the absence of remorse, among other aggravating circumstances; and it is crafted to achieve the primary objectives of denouncing Mr. Leroux’s unlawful conduct and deterring Mr. Leroux and other persons from committing offences of this nature” (Page 47 – 98)
– “The Crown is granted leave to appeal from sentence. The Crown’s appeal from sentence is allowed and the sentence of three years imprisonment is hereby varied to eight years’ imprisonment, but remains unaffected in all other respects.” (Page 48 – 100)
I have seen no reports as yet indicating that Mr. Leroux is back in custody.
My thoughts and prayers are with Paul Leroux’s many many victims, particularly at this time those from the Beauval Indian Residential School. It surely must be a comfort – no matter how small – to know that Leroux will shortly be back behind bars .
I will now resume work on redacting that document. I think I have sorted out a way to deal with it 🙂 This is a document in which Jacob Bernstein’s mother recalls in point format what transpired in 1965 after young Benjamin was sexually abused by Brother Lawrence Lambert. This particular document essentially focuses on what happened at home and then at the embassy..
Enough for now,