François Lamarre, a retired Montreal police officer accused of sexually abusing minors during his time as hockey coach in Greenfield Park, has died of natural causes, Longueuil police confirm.
Lamarre died Sunday in a hospital on Montreal's South Shore, police said. He was 71.
He was arrested in December 2019 and charged with gross indecency, indecent exposure, sexual assault, sexual touching and invitation to sexual touching.
The initial allegations involved four boys between the ages of nine and 16, alleged to have been sexually abused over a 25-year period, from 1972 to 1997.
Since those first charges, police said, 16 more potential victims had come forward.
At a hearing on Dec. 4, Lamarre pleaded not guilty. The allegations against him were not proven in court.
No day in court
Wade Wilson, a Longueuil city councillor who represents Greenfield Park, came forward as an alleged victim of Lamarre after he was arrested in 2019.
Wilson told CBC on Tuesday he was disappointed that Lamarre's death closes the case, and that the former coach won't have to face the justice system.
"We were really hoping to have him face to face with a judge, with a jury, with his victims and be prosecuted as a pedophile. The evidence, to me, was overwhelming," said Wilson.
"We would have liked to see him pay for the crime."
Prior to his death, Lamarre's next court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 6.
Wilson said that he wishes he'd come forward with his own accusations sooner, but he's glad he joined the growing list of accusers.
"For myself, I have my own regrets that I didn't speak out earlier," he said. "When the story broke, we figured it was the right thing to do to step up and try to prevent it from happening to any further victims."
Wilson said he hopes speaking publicly about it will encourage others to denounce their abusers.
"I've been carrying this for 40 years and I know the other victims have too. There's no shame in admitting you're a victim. So if it's happened to you, speak out, talk to your parents or family, get the help you need so you can move forward."