Staring down a prison sentence for sexually assaulting a young girl, a former Lorette school teacher coerced another jailed accused sex offender to claim responsibility for the crime, a judge has been told.
Remi Dallaire had already been convicted of sexually assaulting the eight-year-old victim when he allegedly convinced Michel Bruneau to write a detailed confession to the crime.
After a trial, Dallaire was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting the girl. He is now on trial charged with one count of obstructing justice. His co-accused, Bruneau, was found guilty of the same charge last spring and sentenced to one year in prison.
"Remi Dallaire told me because I already had charges against children what was one more?" Bruneau testified Monday.
Bruneau and Dallaire were housed in the same unit at Headingley Correctional Centre and had become friends in September 2018 when Dallaire approached Bruneau with the scheme, Bruneau told court.
"He kind of asked me to take his charges for him… and he would be free to continue his teaching career," Bruneau told court as he testified by video from Bowden Institution in Alberta.
A month or so later, Dallaire wrote a detailed confession in English, which Bruneau translated into French in his own handwriting, Bruneau said. He ended the 10-page signed confession with the words "GETTING JUSTICE RIGHT!"
"I only translated what he told me to write," Bruneau testified.
In a second, 11-page letter written at Dallaire’s direction, Bruneau repeated much of the same material in a question-and-answer format.
"(Dallaire) said that the (confession letters) would go to the judge, the Crown attorney and his lawyer," Bruneau said.
Dallaire threatened he would get people to harm Bruneau if he didn’t comply with the scheme and promised to cut him in for a million dollars or more in proceeds from wrongful conviction lawsuits, Bruneau said.
Days after Bruneau provided the letters to Dallaire, Dallaire was transferred to another unit. That’s when Bruneau approached a corrections officer and recanted his confession.
"After Remi Dallaire was removed from the range, I knew it would be safer to tell (the officer) what was going on," Bruneau testified.
Defence lawyer Adam Hodge accused Bruneau of being the girl’s true attacker.
"Absolutely not," Bruneau said.
Last March, Bruneau was sentenced to 20½ years in prison for sexually abusing three children from the same Manitoba Housing complex.
During the trial, court was told Bruneau befriended the victims’ mothers to gain access to the children. At separate times, he moved in with two of the boys’ mothers and was considered a father figure. Bruneau repeatedly abused the children while showering together or sleeping in the same bed.
All three victims reported the abuse, resulting in Bruneau’s arrest in the fall of 2016. Released on bail, he was ordered to have no contact with the victims and stay away from the housing complex. But within weeks, Bruneau, disguised as a woman, returned to the complex and convinced the boys’ mothers that he had been wrongly accused. The two boys were convinced to recant their police statements at the same time Bruneau continued to abuse them.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.