Forum Haiti : Des Idées et des Débats sur l'Avenir d'Haiti

Forum Haiti : Des Idées et des Débats sur l'Avenir d'Haiti

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 Canadian aid worker guilty of assaulting Haitian boys

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MessageSujet: Canadian aid worker guilty of assaulting Haitian boys   Mer 19 Nov 2008 - 12:42

Wednesday » November 19 » 2008

Canadian aid worker guilty of assaulting Haitian boys
Marianne White
Canwest News Service


Monday, November 17, 2008


QUEBEC - A Quebec aid worker pleaded guilty Monday to multiple counts of sexually assaulting young orphans in Haiti, becoming only the third Canadian convicted under laws against child-sex crimes committed overseas.

Armand Huard, 65, admitted his guilt on 10 counts of sexually touching minors or inciting minors to touch him and was sentenced to three years in jail.

His guilty plea came on the day the eight victims - Haitian boys aged between 13 and 16 years old at the time of the incidents - were set to testify at his preliminary hearing by video conference from the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Their testimony proved unnecessary because of the plea.

Another aid worker Denis Rochefort, 59, who was arrested with Huard in February, also pleaded guilty last Friday to sexual assaults on six Haitian boys. He was sentenced to two years in jail, followed by three years' probation.

Justice Pierre Verdon, who sentenced both men, called their acts "shameful" for abusing the "poorest and the most vulnerable."

Rochefort was the second Canadian successfully convicted under a rarely used provision of the Criminal Code that allows police to charge Canadians for child-sex crimes committed in other countries.

The foreign child sex crimes law was enacted in 1997, but it had only been used twice before Huard and Rochefort.

Donald Bakker, the first Canadian ever charged, pleaded guilty in 2005, and was sentenced to 10 years in jail for sexually abusing children in Cambodia.

A second B.C. man, Kenneth Robert Klassen, was charged in 2007 in connection with sex crimes in Cambodia, Colombia and the Philippines. That case has not yet gone to trial.

Huard and Rochefort worked at an orphanage in Les Cayes, a port city on the southwestern coast of Haiti, between December 2006 and March 2007. They left the country when allegations of sexual abuse surfaced.

A dozen Haitian boys complained to the local police about Huard and Rochefort but that didn't lead to any accusations. Haitian police officers who were not satisfied with the investigation shared their frustration with their Canadian counterparts on a mission in Haiti.

Crown prosecutor Carmen Rioux said that thanks to the tips from those Haitian officers the Quebec provincial police launched its own investigation in Haiti. Both aid workers were arrested and charged in February 2008.

"It's a triumph for justice," Rioux said. "Haiti is a country that lacks resources at many levels and their legal system is not as well equipped as we are here to conduct investigations like this one. Now justice has been served."

Rioux spoke to the victims by video conference and said they are "at peace" with the turn of events. She added that they played O Canada on their flute to thank the Canadian authorities.

© Canwest News Service 2008
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