Child pornography: wrongly accused, a lawyer demands $4.6 million from the authorities

A lawyer wrongly accused of distributing child pornography before being cleared three years later is now suing Laval police and the Quebec state for $4.6 million.

Jean Berthelot, a photography enthusiast and lawyer who practiced labor law, filed a civil suit in Superior Court on Friday in which he accuses several serious misconduct of three police officers from the Laval Police Service (SPL) and a prosecutor from the Crown.

Our Investigation Office revealed, last December, this affair which began at the end of 2020. SPL police officers then arrested Berthelot and searched his residence, claiming that he had transmitted a sexual image of a child. naked 6-year-old to a woman with whom he communicated on Facebook.

According to the 47-page legal motion that we consulted, Berthelot accuses the police of having “botched the investigation” and of having acted in a “malicious manner” (see extracts from the lawsuit below).

He considers that the maneuvers of the authorities demonstrate “negligence or the determined intention to withhold” information for the defense which could have quickly concluded that he was innocent.

Berthelot instead had to wait more than three years — during which he had difficulty finding a job, suffered major financial losses in addition to having suicidal thoughts — before being cleared, at the time of the preliminary investigation. , last November.

“Gross negligence”

Remember that this whole affair began with a report from Facebook to the authorities in July 2020.

However, the police apparently neglected to check with Facebook if a human being had confirmed the sending of this image, because the alerts come from network algorithms and must be confirmed before considering them as accurate, Berthelot maintains.

The 61-year-old man also blames the police for knowingly seeking his conviction for possession of child pornography.

The latter had notably had two photos of naked children submitted as evidence which were part of an album of 600 photos taken by her daughter during a humanitarian trip to Africa.

Courtesy photo

As for the Crown prosecutor, he blames her for having filed criminal charges against him without sufficient evidence and for having acted with determination by refusing to admit until the last minute that these two photos did not constitute child pornography.

She “showed gross negligence and nonchalance in the management of the case,” we read in the motion.

Jean Berthelot is now claiming a total of $4.6 million from the authorities, including one million dollars for serious reputational damage, more than one million dollars in lost wages and more than $2.5 million in various damages.


The police officer applied for a search warrant when the only information she had “was only a document prepared by a machine.”

“Despite none of the conditions for release [au moment de la comparution] did not provide for the deposit of his passport at the court registry, the SPL maliciously […] communicated with [Passeport Canada»] with the aim of having his passport recalled. He was then ordered to return it to the federal agency.

“Such an approach […] is unacceptable in our justice system”, concerning the lack of transparency of the police in sharing evidence.

“The accusation negligently authorized by [la procureure de la couronne] against the plaintiff thus constitutes serious misconduct.”

On the consequences experienced by Jean Berthelot

He suffered “serious and irreparable damage” to his reputation.

“The unfounded criminal accusation […] had harmful and toxic effects.”

“Confronted, for nearly 3 years, with intense stress, anxiety, [il] still experiences an intense feeling of distress.”

He was refused around twenty job applications in less than a year.

“The unfounded accusations have […] had the effect of financially ruining the plaintiff.”

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