The father of a teen who disappeared in 1999 continues to demand that Quebec's sex offender registry be made public after a coroner's report concluded the man's neighbour might have been his daughter's killer.
Julie Surprenant was declared missing on Nov. 16, 1999, after failing to go home after school. According to coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier's report, witnesses saw Surprenant walk toward her family's Île Saint-Jean home with an unknown individual.
Rudel-Tessier said Richard Bouillon, a man with a long criminal record, lived in an apartment above her family's home and was most likely responsible for the 16-year-old girl's probable death.
"People didn’t know what a sex offender[was]. What's the danger that was representing. In the last 12 years, we were in the media to explain what is a sex offender," said Surprenant.
Lawyer Marc Bellemare is of the same advice and said the province should change the rules so potential victims can be protected.
"I think every single citizen in Quebec should be able to know about the criminal [past] of his neighbours. Every single father, every single mother, should know — if she wants to know — if his neighbour is a sex offender," said Bellemare.
He said Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta currently have open registries for sex offenders and adds that Surprenant would have been able to move to a safer neighbourhood had he known about Bouillon's past.
Changes to patient confidentiality principle
Surprenant said legislation should be enacted that would require people with information about crimes to come forward to police even if this information had been acquired during a situation that required confidentiality.
Rudel-Tessier said she would not comment on Surprenant's demands and said the request should be debated on a platform other than this investigation.
Police had their eyes on Bouillon since the beginning of the investigation in Surprenant's disappearance in 1999 but could not pin him to any incriminating evidence.
Authorities interrogated the man multiple times and analyzed blood found under his shoes and in his car, but the evidence did not yield enough proof.
Rudel-Tessier's report states that the convicted sexual offender allegedly admitted to killing the young woman and dumping her body in the Mille-Îles River
Surprenant believes his daughter's disappearance could have been explained earlier if professionals had been legally obligated to report Bouillon's confessions to the police.
Bouillon made the alleged admission while lying on his deathbed at a Laval hospital.
At the time, he was serving a six-year sentence for an unrelated case but was dying of cancer.
At a hearing in 2011, Annick Prud'homme, a nurse who looked after Bouillon, said the man had confessed to raping many children and had told her he was responsible for kidnapping, raping and killing Surprenant.
Johanne Dubois, an orderly who also worked at the hospital and talked to Bouillon, testified that the convict told her he had killed the teenage girl and stuffed her body in a sports bag with bricks before throwing the bag in the nearby river.
Prud'homme said she had not come forward with Bouillon's confession because she thought the guards who were in the room at the time would have passed on the information to police.
She said she decided to testify in court in 2011 after seeing a television report about Surprenant and noticing that Bouillon's confession was missing from the information.
According to her, the man wanted to make his confession to journalist Claude Poirier before dying, but the message never got to the crime reporter.
Rudel-Tessier's report adds that information provided by correctional services officers after Bouillon's death illustrate that the dying man had also talked about multiple killings to a detainee held with him at the hospital.
The search for Surprenant's body resumed for a few days after Prud'homme and Dubois' testimony but failed to bring up any clues.
After hearing the nurses' testimony in 2011, Michel Surprenant began his campaign for the publication of a list of sexual offenders and a law to amend the patient confidentiality principle.
Surprenant said he would have moved if he had known there was a sex offender living the apartment above his.
In March 2012, Surprenant told the inquest into his daughter's death that he had started his own personal search on Bouillon in 2000 after becoming frustrated with the rate of the police investigation.
He said he went to the Laval courthouse to try and find out more information about his former neighbour's criminal past but that no clerks were willing to help him.
Six years later, Surprenant found out that Bouillon was dying of cancer and asked the provincial police force to have a meeting with the convict to see if he could get the man to confess to his daughter's killing.The Sûreté du Québec denied his request.