‘We have to put some weight in the law’

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N. B. priest convicted | Victim wants to meet with premier to discuss sentences for people who abuse children

The Daily Gleaner

26 August 2011


 A victim of former priest Charles Picot – 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.

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Adam Huras/Telegraph-Journal
Former Dalhousie priest Charles Picot is shown in this file photo.

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 it’s only eight months, despite what has been labeled a grave betrayal of public trust. We have to put some weight in the law.”

LaPointe went to police more than a year ago to tell what happened when he was in his early teens.

In court, he testified he met Dalhousie priest Charles Picot while a boy scout at about 14 years of age.

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. 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 1975-1993, Picot served as a priest in parishes across northern New Brunswick, including Dalhousie, Campbellton, Lameque 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 ordered a new trial for Picot on another indecent assault charge he was recently acquitted of.

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 crime against a parishioner, Michael Jensen, who was 13. Jensen also asked the court not to place a publication ban on his name.

Jesse Robichaud, spokesman for the premier’s office, said Alward wouldn’t comment on individual meetings.

The Office of the 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.”

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