Montreal

Twin sisters speak of immeasurable pain suffered at hands of uncle who raped them in 1970s

While the identities of sexual assault victims are typically withheld by the courts, Sylvia and Lydia Lambion asked that the publication ban be lifted as a way of helping others who have gone through what they did.

Victims asked for publication ban to be lifted to help others who have suffered same fate

Lydia, left, and Sylvia Lambion gave their victim impact statements at the Sainte-Hyacinthe courthouse on Wednesday. The two sisters were sexually assaulted by their maternal uncle in 1976. (Elias Abboud/CBC Montreal)

Twin sisters who are survivors of repeated sexual assaults committed by their maternal uncle testified Wednesday that he caused them irreparable physical, mental and emotional harm.

While the identities of victims of such crimes are typically withheld by the courts, Lydia and Sylvia Lambion asked for that publication ban to be lifted as a way of helping others who have suffered the same fate.

"You took from me, without my consent, my purity, my pride, my innocence and my youth," Lydia Lambion told her uncle, Christian Lesage, at his sentencing hearing before Quebec court Judge Stéphane Godri at the Saint-Hyacinthe courthouse.

"Seeing you, Christian Lesage, raping my sister beside me, also traumatized me for life," she said, as part of her victim impact statement.

The assaults occurred in August 1976 when the girls were 14 years old — six weeks after the death of their father.

In 2015, Lesage was charged with two counts of indecent assault on a female and one count of attempt to commit rape — the Criminal Code statutes at the time of the crimes.

Lesage originally pleaded not guilty in December 2015, but revised his plea to guilty in May after the conclusion of his preliminary hearing.

"[A judge] is listening, finally," said Lydia. "It's correcting some mistakes that were done in the past."

She testified that, in 1978, she told a youth court judge that she had been raped three times by her uncle — but that the judge did nothing.

While Lydia spoke about the ordeal at the time, her sister did not — fearing reprisals from family members who never went to the police to report the assaults.

Lydia testified that her mother did not want her brother to go to jail for what he had done to her daughters.

"I didn't want them to know. I wanted to keep it quiet," Sylvia said. "But I see [now] that I was wrong. I should have mentioned it a long time ago."

The sisters told the court of the immeasurable pain they have endured in the decades since the assaults.

They have each attempted suicide multiple times, suffered eating disorders, night terrors, post-traumatic stress disorder and lost custody of their children.

Crown prosecutor Marie-Claude Morin is asking the judge to sentence Lesage to 30 months in prison. Defence lawyer Brigitte Martin is seeking two years less a day to be served in the community.

They will be back in court Nov. 29, when Lesage is expected to speak.

With files from Elias Abboud