Quebec City man charged with woman's murder was on day parole for ex-spouse's brutal slaying

A man charged with killing a Quebec City sex worker was allowed to have what the Parole Board of Canada deemed "inappropriate" sexual relations with women — despite the "serious and worrisome risk." 

Justice minister calls for investigation into parole board's handling of Eustachio Gallese

Eustachio Gallese, 51, has been charged in connection with the death of 22-year-old Marylène Levesque. He was released on day parole in March 2019 for the 2004 murder of his ex-spouse. (Radio-Canada)

A man charged with killing a Quebec City sex worker was allowed to have what the Parole Board of Canada deemed "inappropriate" sexual relations with women — despite the "serious and worrisome risk." 

Eustachio Gallese had been allowed to meet women "only for the purpose of responding to [his] sexual needs," since he was granted day parole in March 2019, according to parole board documents. 

Gallese, 51, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Marylène Levesque, whose body was found by police in a hotel room in Quebec City's Sainte-Foy neighbourhood on Wednesday evening.

Police say Gallese turned himself in Wednesday, telling them where to find the body of Levesque, who was a sex worker, according to Radio-Canada sources.

Gallese was sentenced in 2006 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years for the 2004 second-degree murder of Chantale Deschênes who, according to parole documents, he struck on the head with a hammer and stabbed several times, enraged by her decision to leave him. 

Marylène Levesque, 22, was found dead at a hotel in Quebec City's Sainte-Foy neighbourhood on Wednesday. (Marylène Levesque/Facebook)

Gallese had been living in a halfway house since March and had been allowed to have his "sexual needs" met, his parole officer told the board at a hearing in September.

The board raised serious concerns about that as a "risk management strategy" but nonetheless listed Gallese's likelihood of reoffending as "low to moderate."

"The Board expects the assessment that culminated in this approach to be re-examined," it said.

It denied Gallese full parole but extended his day parole under several conditions. 

He was required to report any relationships with women, sexual or otherwise, and was forbidden to consume drugs or alcohol.

Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel has asked federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to look into the case

LeBel wants to know why certain conditions were granted to Gallese and whether his case workers were properly trained to evaluate the risk he might have posed to public safety.

"Once we have answers, we can work with [Blair] to put measures in place to keep a similar situation from happening," she said. 

Véronique Hivon, the justice critic for the Parti Québécois, said the case shows a certain "nonchalance" in the way violent crimes against women are treated. 

She said they require a specialized approach from all levels of the justice system, including the parole board.

'Very concerning'

Sandra Wesley, the director of Stella, a Montreal-based sex workers' organization, said the case is "very concerning" because the parole board appears to have given Gallese tacit permission to hire prostitutes, knowingly putting them at risk. 

"They identified that this man was a potential danger to women and wasn't ready to have proper relationships with women but figured that he could then go see sex workers."

"It really tells us what they think about us," Wesley said.

Sandra Wesley, director of the advocacy group Stella, says she's very concerned Gallese was permitted to see sex workers. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Blair said public safety is "the main consideration in all parole decisions."

"Violent offences by individuals on day parole are incredibly rare," the spokesperson said, calling day parole "an important part of a process of gradual, supervised release."

Levesque's death is the first homicide in Quebec City in 2020. Gallese is due back in court Feb. 26.

With files from Radio-Canada's Audrey Paris, Alain Rochefort, Sébastien Tanguay and Alexandra Duval