A ‘crushing’ 10-month sentence

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Northwest Territories/News North

Editorial

Monday, February 9, 2015

When Paul Leroux was handed a three-year prison sentence for molesting
young boys at a Saskatchewan residential school in the 1960s just over
a year ago, a Saskatoon radio station spoke to a victim who predicted
he’d be out in seven months.

“He’ll be out by next summer while we have to live with what he’s done
to us,” he said.

He was off by three months. Leroux has been enjoying full parole since
Dec. 30, 2014, after 10 months in prison.

His exploits go back to at least 1959, but he wouldn’t appear in front
of a judge until 1979 when he was convicted of sexual assault in
Inuvik. He served four months for that charge and was granted pardon.

In 1997, RCMP scooped him up in Vancouver to stand trial for sex
crimes on more than a dozen young boys while he was a supervisor at
the town’s infamous Catholic student residence, Grollier Hall. At the
time, he had recently retired as regional director for the B.C. Human
Rights Commission. Along with his arrest, RCMP made one of the
“largest seizures of (child pornography) ever made,” according to
then-Vancouver Const. Anne Drennan at the time.

NWT Supreme Court Justice John Vertes ultimately handed down a 10-year
sentence for these crimes and the former justice of the peace, Big
Brother, human rights commission director, soccer coach and
residential school supervisor would end up serving three years of it
before leaving prison on parole.

A decade later he faced more sexual abuse charges against young boys,
this time at the Beauval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan,
between 1959 and 1967.

The logic Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Murray Acton
used to mete out a sentence for these crimes is bizarre.

Leroux, given an opportunity to speak to his own defense, told Acton
he had already served a 10-year sentence for similar crimes. It’s
common knowledge he served three years of that sentence and spent the
rest of it on parole.

He also claimed he hadn’t re-offended since 1974.

Aside from his 1979 sex assault conviction, there are also those pesky
child pornography charges from British Columbia in 1997.

Seemingly operating in an alternate reality, Acton accepted as fact
Leroux’s assertion he had served a 10-year sentence and hadn’t
re-offended in 40 years.

Acton must have drank the Kool-Aid Leroux was serving at his
sentencing pity party when he concluded the 17-year sentence the Crown
wanted would be “crushing” and replaced it with a three-year sentence.

Never mind the likelihood he would have served only a third of it
before heading back out into the world on parole.

At this point, Acton may as well have also accepted Leroux’s assertion
of innocence as well and just let him go.

Deeper in Leroux’s sentencing document, Acton, in reference to the
victims’ impact statements, pointed out they were “written in an
eloquent manner, which reminds the court of the high level of
scholastic ability of most of the victims.”

These victim impact statements must have been eloquent indeed for
their scholastic merit to overshadow the weight of their content.

In total, the courts have identified 20 boys as Paul Leroux’s victims.

It’s disturbingly clear how, in the eyes of Judge Acton, the parole
board and the justice system in general, the well-being of these
boys-now men -weighs against the well-being of a three-time convicted
sex offender who took advantage of multiple positions of trust over
two decades.

Thankfully, Leroux’s latest sentence wasn’t used a “precedent” in
deciding the sentence handed down Feb. 4 to former priest Eric
Dejaeger, who received a 19-year prison sentence for sexually
assaulting dozens of boys and girls in Iglulik in the late 1970s and
early ’80s.

The prosecutor had asked for a 25-year sentence, which Dejaeger’s
lawyer complained would be “crushing.”

A 17-year sentence may have been crushing to Leroux, but the 10-month
sentence he actually served is crushing to the credibility of the
court system.

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