Manitoba

Judge mulls 'serious allegations' in trial of teacher charged with sexually assaulting child

Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Ken Champagne heard closing arguments Thursday in the case of a former Lorette teacher charged with sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

Remi Dallaire walks into court in Winnipeg on Thursday. The former Lorette, Man., teacher was found guilty Friday of sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and making sexually explicit material available to a child. The sexual assault charge was then stayed. (Gilbert Rowan/Radio-Canada)

A Manitoba judge heard closing arguments on Thursday in the case against a former Lorette, Man., teacher accused of sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl several times two years ago.

Crown attorney Danielle Simard said the girl, now 10, gave a court testimony against Remi Dallaire earlier in the week that still matches up with what she told RCMP happened in 2016.

On July 14, 2016, ​Dallaire was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and making sexually explicit material available to a child. He has pleaded not guilty to all four offences, which the girl and her mother allege happened between June 10 and July 13 of that year.

Dallaire's lawyer, Matt Gould, maintained his client's innocence and questioned elements of the investigation.

"The allegations are very serious," Gould said. "The allegations are refuted very clearly by Remi Dallaire."

The assaults allegedly took place at apartment suites and a home in Lorette, about 25 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, where Dallaire was a teacher. A Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DSFM) spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday Dallaire was no longer employed by the division as of the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Simard revisited the girl's allegations on Thursday before Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Ken Champagne, who presided over the first four days of what is expected to be a five-day trial.

The girl repeated in court this week graphic details of the alleged inappropriate touching and sexual assaults she made during a 2016 interview with RCMP. That consistency, Simard says, speaks to the girl's credibility as a witness.

Girl repeats accusations

Simard pointed to a purple bottle of personal lubricant the girl described to RCMP, who then located a purple box of personal lubricant matching that description in one of Dallaire's bags during a search of a home he was house-sitting.

Simard outlined a series of facts she said weren't being disputed by the defence, including that Dallaire and the girl spent a lot of time alone together — including sleepovers — in the weeks after her mother moved into an apartment suite across the hall. 

Court previously heard testimony from the mother, who recalled she and her two young daughters grew close with Dallaire shortly after becoming his neighbour. He started walking his accuser to and from school and watching her in the afternoons before her mother got home, eventually taking the girl out on non-school outings and buying her gifts.

"I cannot imagine how guilty she must feel now," Simard said of the mother. "She felt she needed help [with her daughter] and Remi Dallaire was happy to offer her [help]."

'Inappropriate' text

Simard brought up a text message she received from Dallaire at 1:40 a.m. one day in early July 2016 where he said he was having suicidal thoughts and asked her to send her daughter over.

"How can we say there was nothing inappropriate" about that text message, Simard asked in court Thursday. The mother read a text response in court Monday where she called that request "weird" and invited Dallaire over instead, but he declined.

Simard again referred to one instance where the girl stayed overnight with Dallaire at a home across the street he was house-sitting for a colleague. Dallaire admitted to RCMP the girl was naked when they slept in the same bed together and he was wearing only boxer shorts.

But he maintained the girl was naked because she wet the bed, he had to clean up and he "never touched her even when she peed."

The mother admitted she initially was interested in a romantic relationship with Dallaire. In the one sexual encounter they had, the mother said, Dallaire suggested she bring her daughter in the room.

Dallaire later told the mother he and his ex-fiancée had just recently broken up and he wasn't interested in dating, which the mother said she respected.

'No diabolical plan'

But on Thursday Gould suggested the mother felt rejected by Dallaire and used her daughter as a "strategy to get closer to Remi."

Simard asked the mother Tuesday whether she ever encouraged her daughter to make up the allegations against Dallaire — she said no.

The text messages between the mother and Dallaire show there was "no diabolical plan to frame" him, Simard said Thursday.

Gould also dissected part of Const. Reginald Olson's testimony from Wednesday. Olson, who has been with the internet child exploitation unit since 2010, helped execute a search warrant on July 15, 2016, at the home Dallaire was house-sitting.

Olson said he found a laptop bag with the personal lubricant box inside that belonged to Dallaire, but Gould questioned why investigators failed to seize pillows, sheets that had been urinated on, bedding and other materials from the home that were on their radar based on what the girl said.

Gould suggested were that evidence collected it may have helped vindicate Dallaire.

"There were portions of this investigation that were encouraged by Mr. Dallaire that could assist in terms of confirming the explanation that he provided to the police, and that was never pursued," Gould told CBC News after Day 4 of the trial wrapped up.

Charges not released

The charges against Dallaire weren't released to the public after they were laid on July 14, 2016.

RCMP Const. Paul Manaigre says in general investigators have to consider how the safety of victims could be compromised in cases like these.

"Our first priority is protecting the survivors and in some instances, naming the accused, especially in smaller communities, will lead to the identification of the young victim," Manaigre said in an emailed statement.

"Our office will never do anything to bring further attention or harm to anyone who has undergone such trauma."

Manaigre said the RCMP will release charges in cases such as these "if there is a chance of more victims" or the alleged offender poses a threat to the public. No other victims have come forward, he added.

Champagne hopes to reach a decision in the trial by Friday.


With files from Mathilde Monteyne/Radio-Canada

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology. Before joining CBC Manitoba, he worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service monitoring birds in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Alberta. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

With files from Mathilde Monteyne/Radio-Canada