Defence closes case in sexual assault trial of ex-PQ legislator Harold LeBel

RIMOUSKI, Que. — The defence for former Parti Québécois legislator Harold LeBel closed its case on Tuesday in his trial for sexual assault.

Earlier in the day, Superior Court Justice Serge Francoeur called prosecutor Jérôme Simard to order because the lawyer brought up a declaration the accused made to police during his 2020 arrest.

Simard told jurors LeBel had talked about the 2012 assassination attempt against ex-PQ leader Pauline Marois.

The prosecutor suggested LeBel had a "good memory" about the events of 2012 but couldn't recall what happened in his condo in 2017.

The complainant testified last week that LeBel became "aggressive'' that night in October 2017 and then later joined her on a bed where he repeatedly touched her sexually for several hours without consent.

Francoeur told jurors that it is difficult to place on equal footing a memory of a major historical event with a memory of details of a night in 2017, during a police interrogation three years later.

LeBel, who has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty, is charged with one count of sexual assault against a woman whose identity is under a publication ban.

The accused has testified that on the night in question, he fell asleep in his condo — on the same bed as the complainant — and that he has no memory between the time he went to bed and when he woke up.

The defence will make its representations to the jury on Wednesday morning, and the Crown will follow that afternoon. Francoeur said he plans to give his instructions to jurors on Monday morning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press