The complainant in the Harold Lebel trial described a long night spent at her former MP’s home on Tuesday, when he touched the alleged victim, groped her, kissed her and even tried to insert a finger into her buttocks.
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The woman, who is under publication ban, knew the MP and even considered him a “good friend”. While visiting Rimouski for work in 2017, she found herself sleeping in his condo with a third man somewhere for two nights.
If the first night went well, the second turned out to be a nightmare for the victim. After the third person there went to bed around midnight, LeBel and the woman Rimouski continued to chat in the dining room of the MP condo.
As the discussion became more personal, Lebel allegedly put his hands on his thighs and kissed him.
“I was very surprised because I did not experience any seductive behavior during our relationship or even during the evening,” she testified before the 14-member jury.
The complainant then went back and explained to Harold Lebel that she wanted to take a shower and go to bed. The accused followed her “arguing” as she went to the bathroom.
“[Il a dit] Why not? why are you going to bed Keep calm, we’ll keep talking. I saw him coming towards me. He put his hand on my back and undid my bra,” said the woman.
The complainant explained that after locking herself in the bathroom, Labelle tried and insisted on going inside. She sends an unanswered text message to her friend who is sleeping with her at the time.
Seeing that the suspect is not in front of the icy bathroom door after a few minutes, the woman decides to take a shower and tries to calm down wondering what happened.
“I’m still shaking like a leaf,” she told the jury, describing the “transition” between the man she knew and the aggressor standing outside the bathroom door.
Kissing on a bed
While going to sleep on Murphy’s bed in the living room, the complainant stated that she was joined by Lebel who asked her to sleep with him.
“1001 questions flashed in my mind. A few minutes earlier, he was a friend I was greeting. I felt bad that I didn’t tell him, I was afraid, I was afraid it would hurt me. […] And I said ok.
Initially, though Harold Lebel suggests that the alleged victim be kept “curled as far as possible” out of bed if he gets away, things quickly change.
After that the attack continued.
The former deputy began fondling the woman, touching her buttocks, squeezing her, touching her everywhere.
“I felt his fingers crack into my buttocks. It went on for a crazy period of time. At some point, he came to my anus, he caressed the area and tried to insert his finger,” she testified.
The victim said he remained motionless the entire time, paralyzed with fear that “something else was going to happen,” and the next day she was in pain “every inch of her body.”
She explained to the court that this “sequence of gestures” continued throughout the night until sunrise.
“It’s absolutely endless. […] I said he was stopping, he was sleeping, but it continued,” she explained, her voice shaking but under control.
In the early hours of the morning, a third person who was present went into the living room as soon as she woke up and described the complainant as saying that she “just saw the text message”. At this time the weather is icy, an “extreme illness” freezes the small apartment, according to the woman.
Harold Lebel takes the two women to a gas station because they need to find a carpool there to leave the area. Once back, the alleged victim broke down in tears as he recounted his night with Lebel. The latter sends him text messages during this time, which have been filed as evidence.
“[…] Thank you also for letting me stick with you,” wrote the man, who was Rimouski’s deputy at the time, before adding: “Sure I’m not feeling well this morning, but it makes me feel great. Good”.
The alleged victim will continue his testimony on Wednesday morning and be cross-examined by defense lawyer Maxim Roy.
The first witness
At the start of this second day of the trial, Judge Serge Francoeur presented his instructions to the 14 jurors appointed Monday.
Like the magistrate, Crown prosecutor Manon Gaudreault insisted on preconceived notions jurors can have in sexual assault cases.
“Be very careful, here we are talking about reality. We are not talking about what we believe is normal,” stressed Me Gaudreult, adding that his evidence “quickly demonstrates a difficult situation”. [la victime]And “why she chose to pretend that night didn’t exist.”
The first crown witness called to the bar was a forensic identification technician at the Sûreté du Québec. He came forward on December 15, 2020 to submit photographs of Harold Lebel’s home taken on the morning of his arrest, as well as a sketch of the place. These factors allow jurors to better position themselves during other evidence, the Crown said.
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Bernard Drainville, New Education commentator