Victims, community demand justice

Those affected by the crimes of Delmore Boudreau are not happy that the man who sexually preyed on them when they were young will not see the inside of a jail cell.

In Port Hawkesbury Supreme Court on May 22, Boudreau pleaded guilty to 10 charges of indecent assault involving eight females and one male – ranging in age from four to 12 – which were committed in the Petit de Grat area between 1966 and 1986.

According to the statement of facts, most of the abuse took place in the basement of Boudreau’s home. The victims said Boudreau either threatened them not to disclose the incidents, or rewarded them with candy after they occurred. All victims told police they were scared and confused after the incidents, all of which were sexual in nature.

In court late last month, two people provided victim impact statements. One woman said while she felt safe at home with her loving family, she did not feel safe in the community, which she said seemed more concerned with protecting Boudreau than his victims. She said many residents implored her to keep her abuse secret, others “shunned” her, and she felt “backlash” from some women in the community. Noting that “time does not heal all wounds,” she said the abuse she suffered at Boudreau’s hands followed her from childhood into adulthood like “a dark cloud.”

Meanwhile, the victim told the court that even after his deeds surfaced, Boudreau was merely sent for counselling with a local priest and was never held accountable. She concluded by asking that the court not take pity on Boudreau because of his age, adding that he didn’t worry about the ages of his victims.

The second woman to take the stand said the community was “ill-equipped” to deal with abuse, and many people looked at it through a “narrow lense” where the abuser was protected and the victims were not believed, even by their own families. She said many adults were “conflict averse,” preferring to keep the peace to serve what they considered the greater good. She pointed out that this “culture of silence on Isle Madame created a community of victims.”

The victim told the court that as a result of the abuse, she feared all grown men – even her father, has a heightened fear of the dark, still has trust issues with men, has struggled in relationships, and suffers from depression and anxiety. As a result of her mental and physical problems, she was forced to leave the workforce. She told the court she has been receiving psychotherapy for the past five years.

The victim said she is ashamed she didn’t come forward sooner and told the court it’s hard to hear about other cases which took place after hers. She said she is hopeful that by coming forward, this will help the community heal and raise awareness so that future allegations are taken seriously.

On May 9, 2018 Richmond District RCMP announced it completed an eight-month investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Boudreau. The RCMP said at the time that an investigation was initiated after a victim came forward to police in September, 2017.

As the investigation progressed, the RCMP said a total of nine victims were identified with some coming forward on their own, and others making statements after being approached by police. As a result, 12 charges were laid by the RCMP including sexual intercourse with a minor, sexual assault, as well as indecent assault.

Since then, the Crown and Defence came to an agreement on a joint sentencing recommendation of a suspended sentence; three years probation; house arrest with a strict curfew; regularly reporting to his probation officer; no contact with anyone under the age of 16 (with exceptions for his grandchildren); Boudreau cannot visit any locations frequented by children; he was given a firearms prohibition; he was ordered to submit a sample of his DNA; and his name will be placed in the national sex offender registry.

Crown Attorney Herman Felderhoff said this was the first time in his career that he made such a sentencing recommendation, noting that a trial would’ve been a challenge since the case goes back many years, involves multiple victims, the accused is 92-years-old, and has a host of medical issues.

Defence lawyer Kevin Burke called Boudreau’s circumstances “exceptional,” explaining his client has only a Grade 6 education, is an advanced age, has cardiac issues – including suffering multiple heart attacks, has cognitive impairments, and suffers from significant hearing loss. He said these medical and mental issues impair Boudreau’s ability to fully participate in his own defence.

Burke noted that incarceration would be a “death sentence” for his client and by taking full responsibility for what he did, he hoped the guilty pleas will provide some closure for those impacted. Acknowledging that the terms of the sentence are not stringent and it’s “not a perfect proposal,” Burke said it does reflect society’s condemnation of what Boudreau has done and “serves the interests of justice.”

In a statement to the court, just before Judge Patrick Murray gave his sentencing decision, Boudreau said, through his daughter-in-law that he is “very sorry” for all the hurt he caused through the years.

In his decision, Murray called this a “very difficult case” because Boudreau has no prior record, expressed remorse and took responsibility, but he noted that the “offences are repugnant to society.” Pointing to the “unique circumstances” in the case, Murray told the court he did carefully read the victim’s impact statements and they did weigh into his decision, calling the consequences of Boudreau’s crimes “both devastating and prolonged.”

Noting Boudreau’s actions were “predatory” because he was a relative and neighbour to some of the victims, Murray said he still considered incarceration despite his infirmity, but he finally concluded that jail time was “not a realistic option” since legal precedents have clearly established age as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Since the sentence was handed down, the general reaction has been disgust that Boudreau was not incarcerated.

One explanation lies in the joint sentencing recommendation which allowed a guilty plea on indecent assault charges, not some of the more serious counts laid last year. Judge Murray did explain that Boudreau was charged under the laws of the time, hence the indecent assault charges, but that still doesn’t explain why other charges were withdrawn.

By withdrawing charges like sexual assault and sexual intercourse with a minor, the sentencing agreement fails to consider the severity of the crimes which are clearly laid out in the statement of facts.

These facts clearly show that Boudreau was a predator who identified, groomed and sexually violated his victims multiple times over many years, mostly while the victims were between the ages of four and six. The statement of facts also shows how Boudreau intimidated some of his young victims not to reveal what he did to them, all while wearing the disguise of a trusted neighbour, friend and relative.

The joint sentencing recommendation did not consider the community’s desire for justice. In addition to his victims, there were many others deeply (albeit not equally) affected by Boudreau’s actions. Even though there is plenty of blame to go around – as evidenced by the words of two of Boudreau’s victims – the community needs some justice to be able to heal and try to move on. By keeping Boudreau in the community, it’s debatable whether that can take place.

Boudreau forever robbed his victims of their innocence, the memories of what he did to them continue to stay with them, and likely will remain with them for the rest of their lives. His actions have also scarred the community. It’s debatable whether any punishment is sufficient for crimes of this nature, but by putting Boudreau in jail, a message would be sent out that no matter how many years pass, justice will be served.