Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)
Published Friday August 26th, 2011
FREDERICTON – A victim of Charles Picot– a former Roman Catholic priest who was sentenced to jail earlier this week – says he wants a meeting with Premier David Alward to present ideas on how to better protect young people from sexual predators.
Derek LaPointe, who has broken his silence after being sexually assaulted by the northern New Brunswick priest more than three decades ago, is advocating for longer sentences that focus on rehabilitation.
Picot was sentenced this week in Campbellton provincial court to eight months in jail after being found guilty of indecent assault in connection with an incident involving LaPointe more than 30 years ago.
“My biggest concern is that during the sentencing the judge emphasized how serious it is when someone such as a priest or teacher, when they betray the trust of a child,” LaPointe said. “It affects the entire community.
“But then the judge delivers the sentence and its only eight months, despite what has been labelled a grave portrayal of public trust. We have to put some weight in the law.”
LaPointe went to police more than a year ago to detail what happened when he was in his early teens.
In court he testified that he met Dalhousie priest Charles Picot while a boy scout at about 14 years old.
Picot had invited him into the rectory of the church. He sat LaPointe on his lap and shortly thereafter put his hand down the front of LaPointe’s pants and groped the boy.
“I’m fortunate that what was done to me didn’t destroy me,” LaPointe said. “It set me back quite a few years, but other men have been devastated by this.”
LaPointe said the province needs to tie mandatory rehabilitation programming to jail sentences to ensure that the punishment of a first offence is strong enough to prevent further offences.
“I don’t just want to see him or any other person that offends be thrown into a cell, and then they throw away the key,” LaPointe said. “But I do believe that there needs to be decent programming incorporated with a facility that specializes in this and then make it mandatory that these men and women who offend have to be involved in this in order to be released.”
Between 1975 and 1993, Picot served as a priest in parishes across northern New Brunswick, including Dalhousie, Campbellton, Lamèque and Bathurst.
In 1993, he served seven months in jail for two counts of sexual assault and one of indecent assault.
New Brunswick’s highest court has also ordered a new trial for Picot who was originally acquitted on another indecent assault charge.
He will be tried again following a 2-1 decision last week by a three-judge panel of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.
Picot was accused of committing the assault against a parishioner, Michael Jensen, who was 13 at the time. Jensen asked the court not to place a publication ban on his name.
Jesse Robichaud, spokesman for the Premier’s Office, said Alward would not comment on individual meetings. Attorney General spokesman Paul Harpelle declined to comment.
“I really want to be respectful of the premier and not go in demanding like a bull in a china shop, but I do want to emphasize to him that it is serious,” LaPointe said. “Short sentences are just like a slap in the face saying it wasn’t that big of a deal to the province.”