A judge refused to absolve the Sherbrooke police officer convicted of sexually assaulting a woman while in uniform and instead sentenced him to six months of home confinement.
Samuel Ducharme who, in tears, implored judge Serge Champoux to absolve him, did not succeed in convincing him. The former spokesperson for the Sherbrooke Police Service (SPS) was trying to escape a criminal record “to rebuild a better life.”
However, his remorse and regrets “appear to me to be much more directed towards his own situation and the consequences on him and his family rather than his victim”, noted the magistrate in his written decision.
Ducharme was thus sentenced this morning to six months of home confinement followed by two years’ probation. He will also have to do 100 hours of community service.
During an evening in August 2021, he licked the elbow and cheek of a young woman in addition to attempting to touch her chest and genitals. A publication ban prevents us from revealing certain details, such as the context in which the sexual assault took place.
One thing is certain, the 42-year-old man was on duty at the time of the incident and he was wearing his uniform. An element also considered as an aggravating factor for his sentence.
Before being suspended, Samuel Ducharme was a spokesperson for the Sherbrooke Police Department.
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The police officer did not deny at his trial that certain actions occurred. But he rather believed that he had had a consensual flirtation with his victim twice his age.
The magistrate, however, found that the evidence was clear and convincing: the woman unambiguously refused all the advances and stated on several occasions that she did not wish to have any of these contacts.
“The consequences for her are very serious, very worrying and are far from being resolved to this day,” recalled Judge Champoux.
The face of the police force
During the observations on the sentence in October, the father had broadly underlined the consequences on his life of the media coverage of the judicial process. The magistrate was not at all convinced that this was a mitigating factor.
“He was the face of the police department in […] one of the most important cities in Quebec. It was legitimate to expect that the news of his arrest for such a serious crime would be reported. Publicity of legal cases is necessary,” he said.
It was a matter of “general interest, due to its seriousness and the principles that were at stake,” he adds, emphasizing in his judgment that Ducharme is the only one responsible in this matter.
In addition, in January he will undergo another trial for sexual assault. After the media coverage of his arrest, a second alleged victim came forward to the authorities.
The police officer who appealed his guilty verdict is still employed by the SPS, but has been suspended during the legal proceedings.