Allegations against SQ officers seemed credible, journalist testifies in defamation trial

Forty-two Sûreté du Québec officials who were or were working in Val D’or when the Radio-Canada report aired in 2015 have filed a $3 million lawsuit.

Article content

The reporter behind a story now at the center of a defamation lawsuit brought by Sûreté du Québec officials against her and Radio-Canada defended her work Friday in Montreal court.

Forty-two SQ members are seeking a total of almost $3 million from Josée Dupuis, now retired, and Radio-Canada.

Article content

The report in question, first broadcast in 2015 by Radio-Canada’s investigative series Enquête, alleged SQ agents based in Val-d’Or were paying indigenous women, with cash or seized cocaine, to performed fellatio on them while they were on duty. The report also alleged that indigenous women were abandoned in remote areas in freezing weather, so they would have to walk for hours to return to their homes.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The allegations made by the women were subsequently investigated by Montreal police and the Director of Criminal and Criminal Prosecutions (DPCP) and it was determined that no criminal charges would be brought against any SQ officers based in Val D’or.

While testifying Friday before Superior Court Judge Babak Barin, Dupuis said he found the allegations made by the women he interviewed credible. Dupuis also said he made several trips to Val D’or to speak with other people who confirmed what the women claimed.

While answering questions from Radio-Canada lawyer Geneviève Garon, Dupuis said he sometimes left the investigation out of the report because he had doubts. In one particular case, he said, he sought out and interviewed two sisters about alleged abuse by SQ agents.

Dupuis said he spent time searching for the sisters because other people said they would be key to the story, but ultimately left them out of the report because what they said, in part, did not match what other people alleged.

The names of most of the women interviewed by Dupuis are protected by a publication ban.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

On Friday, the judge was shown a recording of an interview Dupuis did with a woman who alleged she was forced to perform fellatio several times on SQ officers. The woman said this happened while she was working at an escort agency when she was between 18 and 22 years old.

“She was always clear when she spoke to me. She talked about her past as an escort,” Dupuis said after the video stopped. “She was very detailed in what she told me. She repeated the same things and didn’t change her story and was honest about her past with the police.

“She never hid the fact that she had violent problems with the police and that she herself had violent behavior. Everything she said seemed to be true. I can add that she described precise locations, roads, hotels and residences. “It was very precise.”

At one point, Radio-Canada’s lawyer asked Dupuis if she considered the former bodyguard was making accusations to get back at the SQ because its officers had treated her violently when they arrested her in the past.

“It didn’t occur to me that she was trying to tarnish the reputation of police officers because she had been honest with us (on other issues),” Dupuis said. “She had filed complaints and was not satisfied with the responses to her complaints. “I didn’t feel like she was looking for revenge.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

The retired journalist also said that the claim that another indigenous woman had performed fellatio on SQ agents was supported “by several people.”

Dupuis also said that after he had made his third trip to Val D’or he received letters from people who had begun to file complaints against the SQ alleging past violence by its officers. Dupuis also said she was informed that the SQ had relaunched an investigation into the disappearance of Sindy Ruperthouse, an Indigenous woman who disappeared in 2014 after she went to a hospital in Val D’or.

Ruperthouse had been assaulted and suffered rib fractures, but Dupuis said that while speaking to indigenous people in Val D’or he was told that the SQ did not treat Ruperthouse’s disappearance seriously. The journalist was informed that, following Radio-Canada visits to the community, the SQ searched the home of Lévis Landry, 62, a man considered a suspect in Ruperthouse’s disappearance.

Garon asked Dupuis how he reacted to this news.

“We had touched something important. We had pointed out something that was very sensitive and we were moving in the right direction to manage our investigation,” Dupuis said.

Ruperthouse has yet to be located, but, in 2016, Landry was charged with the death of a woman named Marie-Ève ​​Charron. Her body was found in the basement of an apartment building in Val D’or. In 2018, Landry pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and is currently serving a 16-year sentence.

Dupuis is scheduled to continue his testimony next week.

[email protected]

Recommended by Editorial

Advertisement 5

Article content

Article content

Leave a Comment