Former Lorette, Man., teacher 'a predator' who sexually abused child, judge rules

A former teacher at a rural Manitoba school has been found guilty of a sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl two years ago.

Remi Dallaire found guilty of sexual interference in connection with 2016 abuse of girl, 8

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 former rural Manitoba school teacher has been found guilty of sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl two years ago.

Remi Dallaire was charged on July 14, 2016, with sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and making sexually explicit material available to a child. He pleaded not guilty.

A dejected-looking Dallaire stared down in court on Friday as Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Ken Champagne referred to him as a predator and convicted him on all four counts. The sexual assault charge was then stayed.

"It is a skilled example of grooming behaviour and I don't hesitate in finding that the accused is a predator," Champagne said. "There is clear evidence of repeated sexual assaults."

Dallaire was detained in custody to await sentencing at a later date.

Exploited trust

Up until June of 2016, when the abuse took place, Dallaire, then 31, worked as a teacher at a Lorette school, about 25 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg and part of the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DSFM).

RCMP said no other victims have come forward.

During the trial Champagne heard testimony from the girl, now 10, her mother and RCMP involved in arresting Dallaire and searching a home where some of the offences occurred.

He considered the evidence set forth by the witnesses and Crown attorney Danielle Simard, ultimately deciding Dallaire exploited the mother's trust and made a calculated effort to get alone time with her daughter.

"This time alone was not for an hour or two, here or there. Very quickly she was having sleepovers with the accused," Champagne said, repeating and emphasizing the phrase "eight-year-old girl" as he revisited testimony from the mother and daughter over the course of almost two hours.

Court heard how the mother moved into an apartment across from Dallaire in June of 2016. With plans to move to Alberta for a new job in July, Dallaire quickly immersed himself in the lives of the single mother and her two young daughters, Champagne said.

Champagne said the mother became "smitten" with Dallaire, who helped the family and offered to walk  her eldest daughter to and from school — where Dallaire was also employed — and watch her for hours before her mother got home from work, according to police and witness testimonies.

'Dangerous signals'

Simard previously said the mother developed romantic feelings for Dallaire, and when he told her he wasn't interested she respected that. But she hoped that might change, Champagne said, and her daughter continued to spend a lot of time alone with Dallaire over the course of several weeks.

"There is no doubt that she held out hope that she could win his heart. That hope led her to ignore some very serious and dangerous signals about the accused's intentions with [her daughter]," Champagne said.

"I am certain [the mother] feels guilt, anger and regret toward the accused, yet she testified in court in a straightforward manner, she still spoke highly of the accused and acknowledged all the wonderful things he did for her."

The mother and Dallaire, who chose not to testify, had one sexual encounter. She said he couldn't get erect and suggested they should bring her daughter in the room.

Confused and caught off guard, the mother said she questioned Dallaire but he denied meaning anything sexual by the remark. It never came up again.

"It is hard to understand how a mother of an eight-year-old girl would not be alarmed and frightened from that discussion," Champagne said, and yet "that evidence is uncontested" by Dallaire.

'Bright, burning red flag'

In the weeks that followed, the relationship between Dallaire and the family intensified and soon the girl was having sleepovers and going on outings with Dallaire.

In reviewing the timeline of events — just over a month passed from when they all met and Dallaire was charged — Champagne suggested Dallaire quickly worked to normalize the fact he was spending time with the girl. 

His generally helpful manner, and the facts that he was a teacher and bought toys and other gifts for the girl, helped the mother overlook red flag after "bright, burning red flag," Champagne said.

Then, on July 13, after spending several days staying with Dallaire at a home across the street where he was house-sitting for a colleague, the girl told her mother Dallaire had sexually assaulted her and that she was scared to say anything because it would be her fault.

The mother confronted Dallaire that night, and also called her father and brother and then reported it to police. Dallaire was questioned the next day and the home across the street was searched, where Const. Reginald Olson confirmed in court he found a box of personal lubricant in Dallaire's bag that matched the colour and "slippery stuff" description provided by the girl.

'Their fun'

A video interview she gave RCMP on July 14, 2016, was played in court, in which she described graphic instances of touching and sexual assault. She told RCMP Dallaire bought her a stuffed cat, toys and other things, and that he told her the sexual assaults — which she specifically described in the interview — were "their fun" and a secret.

Daillaire and the girl had showers together and slept in the same bed, and he made her watch pornography and asked her to do things to him that she saw in the video, court heard.

The 10-year-old girl told court of offences that hurt, and she still feels anger toward Dallaire and her mother.

In an interview with RCMP, Dallaire admitted to sleeping in the same bed as the girl after she wet her clothes in the bed and said he cleaned her with a towel. The girl denied peeing the bed, and Champagne said he had a hard time believing the pair would continue sleeping on a "urine-soaked" mattress.

Champagne found the girl's recollection of events was consistent enough to rule out the possibility that her mother coached her into making it up — an argument Dallaire suggested to RCMP was possible, but which Champagne found unconvincing.

"The accused would have me believe that this is part of a fabrication that [the girl] was made to say by her mother," Champagne said. 

"Considering the timing again of the disclosure, I find that it would be unlikely and impossible that [the mother] would suggest to her child in relating to the police that the action of the accused should be described as 'their fun.'"

Defence attorney Matt Gould requested Dallaire be released with bail conditions pending sentencing. But Champagne sided with Simard in agreeing that the gravity of the crimes and risk Dallaire could flee were too great, so had him detained.

"Public confidence wouldn't be just undermined, it would be shattered if the accused were to be released," he said a short time before a sheriff escorted Dallaire from the courtroom.

The identities of the girl and her mother are protected under a publication ban.

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.