Montreal

Man once questioned in Cédrika Provencher case faces child porn charges

A Trois-Rivières, Que., man questioned by police after the 2007 disappearance of nine-year-old Cédrika Provencher has been charged with six counts related to child pornography.

Jonathan Bettez, 36, arrested during Quebec provincial police operation Monday

Jonathan Bettez, centre, wearing glasses, was released after his court appearance Tuesday on $5,000 bail. He was arrested just before noon ET Monday as part of an operation led by the Sûreté du Québec's sexual exploitation of children investigative unit. (Radio-Canada)

A Trois-Rivières, Que., man questioned by police at the time of nine-year-old Cédrika Provencher's disappearance in 2007 is now facing six charges related to child pornography.

Jonathan Bettez, 36, was arrested at his workplace just before noon ET Monday as part of an operation led by provincial police's sexual exploitation of children investigative unit.

Some 20 detectives executed three search warrants during the operation, one at the offices of Emballage Bettez, where Bettez works, and two at private residences.

Bettez was charged with intent to distribute child pornography, accessing child pornography, possessing child pornography and distributing child pornography.

The charges span the period between Nov. 4, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2013.

Bettez was released after his court appearance Tuesday on $5,000 bail and conditions that require him to:

  • Surrender his passport.
  • Keep away from children under age 16.
  • Only access computers and the internet for work purposes.

Judge calls for calm

Cédrika, who would have turned 19 on Monday, disappeared from a park near her home on July 31, 2007.

Police believe she was approached by an adult who asked for help to find a missing dog.

Her remains were found by a hunter in a wooded area near Trois-Rivières in December 2015.

Cédrika Provencher was nine years old when she went missing in 2007. (Martin Provencher/Facebook)

Bettez was questioned by police around the time of Cédrika's disappearance, but the case remains open.

A Sûreté du Québec spokesman said Tuesday that investigators are "not in a position to make a link" between the current charges Bettez faces and the Cédrika Provencher case.

The girl's parents, Martin Provencher and Karine Fortier, attended Bettez's arraignment Tuesday. They asked for Bettez to collaborate with police and submit to a polygraph test.

"All that I want is if he's not responsible for anything, that he agrees to take that test," Fortier said. 

"I think that for him, for us, his family, for everyone, if he has nothing to hide, it's the only way to get there."

At the start of the hearing, the judge acknowledged the public interest in the case and asked for respect and calm from those in attendance.

With files from Lauren McCallum and Radio-Canada