Former PQ leader Andre Boisclair pleads guilty to sexual assault charges

WARNING: Some may find the details in this story disturbing

Former Parti Quebecois (PQ) leader André Boisclair pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting two young men he met online in separate incidents.

The 56-year-old entered the plea at the Montreal courthouse Monday, avoiding a trial after initially requesting one by judge alone following his arrest in 2020.

He pled guilty to one count of sexual assault with the assistance of a third party against one victim relating to an incident in 2014. He also pled guilty to sexual assault in relation to an incident involving another man in 2015.

According to an agreed statement of facts, he was 48 at the time of the first incident when he invited to his home a man in his early 20s whom he met on an online dating app. But when he arrived at Boisclair’s apartment, two other men were already there, and the date turned into a nightmare, he said. 

Boisclair began consuming drugs that were on full display, court heard, and he became aggressive. He held his victim by the torso and ordered his accomplices to sexually assault the young man, who had made it clear he didn’t want to have sex.

The young man went to the police and when a warrant for his arrest was reported by the media, a second man came forward with a very similar allegation of a date that went horribly wrong.

In that case, the 22-year-old met Boisclair at his home. When he tried to leave, the former politician tried to hold him back to force himself upon him.

The identities of the victims are shielded by a publication ban. Both men read emotional victim impact statements, telling the court they knew who Boisclair was and trusted him at the time.

One said he was a young, ambitious social activist interested in politics, but that after the assault, his life was turned upside down. He dropped out of university before he sank into a deep depression and had suicidal thoughts.

The second victim said he was barely starting to accept his own coming out at the time, and that the sexual assault traumatized him to the point it took him years to start dating again. To this day, he still lives in shame and is unable to trust others.

Crown prosecutor Jerome Laflamme praised the complainants for coming forward.

“Sexual assault cases are always difficult, but it’s my job. I will have to say the plaintiffs in this file made my job easy for always being present and collaborative,” Laflamme said.

The Crown and defence made a joint submission on sentencing for a term of two years less a day in jail for the crimes. The judge told the court a decision on sentencing will be handed down on July 18. Until then, Boisclair is out on bail.

Boisclair renounced his right to a preliminary inquiry in both cases last September and elected to go straight to trial by judge alone prior to entering the plea on Monday.

The former party leader was also facing a count of sexual assault with a weapon in the first case, but the charge was dropped Monday afternoon.

Boisclair was a provincial cabinet minister and served as PQ leader between 2005 and 2007 when the party was in opposition.

He was later Quebec’s delegate general in New York from 2012 to 2013 and was president of the Urban Development Institute of Quebec from 2016 until his arrest.

With files from The Canadian Press

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