Lachine pedophile caught by investigative reporter faces jail time

“The absence of a real victim should not diminish the offender’s degree of responsibility in an infraction.”

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A Lachine resident who exposed himself to a person over the internet that he believed was a 14-year-old girl, but turned out to be an investigative journalist, is facing the possibility of jail time.

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On Friday, at the Montreal courthouse, prosecutor Charles Doucet recommended that Rémi Richard, 56, be sentenced to a 20-month prison term for crimes he committed, during 2017, while using Periscope, a live streaming application that launched in 2015 and was discontinued last year. It allowed viewers to watch things live as people anywhere in the world broadcast the images live through their personal cameras.

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The images could be of anything. When Richard was arrested by the Montreal police he told investigators he had seen people show live images of their travels. But he admitted he also used it because there was a sexual voyeuristic element to the app where people would expose themselves live on camera.

During November 2017, J.E., the investigative journalism show on TVA, looked into whether Periscope posed a danger to children. A team working on the show created the false persona of a 14-year-old girl on Periscope and reporter Marie-Pier Cloutier began exchanging messages with a man who turned out to be Richard.

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The messages revealed Richard knew he was communicating with a minor. At first, he tried to guess the age of the person he knew only by the name Marie-Pier. He masturbated in front of his camera and asked if she was “10,11,12,13” before Cloutier claimed to be 14.

“Me, I like to show myself. Meeting a young girl who likes to show herself, that would be trippy,” Richard wrote during their exchange.

Cloutier arranged to meet with Richard at Angrignon Park, in the Sud-Ouest borough, that same day. When he arrived at the parking lot in his black pickup truck he was confronted by Cloutier and other people working on the show.

“You fell into the wrong place because I’m not the young girl you think I am,” Cloutier told Richard as a cameraperson recorded what was happening. She then introduced herself as a reporter from J.E.

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“I know. I know,” Richard said before he drove away.

Someone who apparently watched the show called the Montreal police after it aired and identified Richard as the man who arrived at the parking lot in the pickup truck.

Last year, Quebec Court Judge Josée Bélanger found Richard guilty of child luring, distributing sexually explicit material to a minor and three counts related to two firearms found when the Montreal police searched his home in 2018.

“The Supreme Court has already analyzed the magnitude of technology in crimes against children and the reprehensible character of those types of infractions that attack personal autonomy,” the prosecutor told the judge while recommending the 20-month sentence. He argued that Richard still does not accept that he did something wrong. “The absence of a real victim should not diminish the offender’s degree of responsibility in an infraction.

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“There is no difference if it was a journalistic operation or a planned police operation.”

Defence lawyer Tom Pentefountas suggested that a 12-month sentence would be more appropriate in his client’s case.

“This is serious, I agree with that. As a society we have to do everything to protect our children,” he said while arguing that Doucet’s recommendation doesn’t compare with sentences delivered in similar cases. The defence attorney noted his client doesn’t have a criminal record and that Doucet specifically referenced a case that involved a repeat offender who lured two actual victims.

He also noted that when police searched Richard’s house they found no child pornography on his computer hard drive or his phone.

Bélanger is scheduled to deliver her decision on the sentence in January.

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