Police officer who pleaded guilty following Val-d'Or investigation dies of cancer before being sentenced

The only criminal case to go forward following explosive allegations of police misconduct in Val-d'Or, Que., has ended with the death of retired police officer Jean-Luc Vollant, who died of cancer Sunday, months before he was supposed to be sentenced for sexual assault.

Jean-Luc Vollant pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault in connection with incidents in Schefferville

Retired police officer Jean-Luc Vollant, who had cancer, died Dec. 16 in his home in Mani-Utenam, Que. Vollant was one of two officers charged following an investigation into 37 cases of abuse and excessive force against Indigenous women reported to Montreal police following a 2015 news report by Radio-Canada. He pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault for incidents that occurred during his time with the local police in Schefferville, Que., in the 1980s. (Daniel Fontaine/Radio-Canada)

The only criminal case to go forward following explosive allegations of police misconduct in Val-d'Or, Que., has ended with the death of retired police officer Jean-Luc Vollant, months before he was to be sentenced for sexual assault.

Vollant, 67, died of cancer at his home on Sunday. He had pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault for incidents that occurred during his time with the local police in Schefferville, Que., in the 1980s.

Sentencing arguments were supposed to take place this month but were delayed to March 2019, because Vollant was too ill to attend.

Other charges against Vollant, including rape and indecent assault, were dropped with his guilty plea. 

The Crown prosecutor's office said Vollant's case will be closed once a judge receives the death certificate, but his guilty plea will stay on record. 

Vollant was one of two officers charged following an investigation into 37 cases of abuse and excessive force reported to Montreal police following a 2015 Radio-Canada report into alleged abuses of Indigenous women by Val-d'Or officers.

The other officer charged, Alain Juneau, died by suicide in January 2017, a few months after he was charged with sexual assault and assault with a weapon.

Disappointment, anger

The absence of charges involving officers from the Val-d'Or detachment were met with widespread disappointment and anger in the community after the Crown's announcement in 2016.

Repeated calls from Indigenous leaders led to the creation of a provincial inquiry that wrapped up its public hearings last Friday.

Testimony from Montreal police investigators during the inquiry, called the Viens Commission, revealed that 54 additional complaints of police misconduct never led to criminal charges.

Retired Justice Jacques Viens is expected to submit his full report in September of next year, based on 277 personal testimonies from Indigenous people in Quebec about their personal encounters with police, medical staff and other public services.

More than 50 of those testimonies involved policing methods.

About the Author

Julia Page

Journalist

Julia Page is a radio and online journalist with CBC News, based in Quebec City.

With files from Catou Mackinnon and Radio-Canada