Claude Guillot trial: “controlling and angry” pastor found guilty

After six years of proceedings and 60 days of hearings, Pastor Claude Guillot was found guilty of physical and psychological abuse on five of the six boarders at his school. A relief for the victims marked for life by what they have experienced.

• Read also: $5.8 million claimed from Pastor Guillot

In 2001, at the age of eight, Joshua Seanosky was lodged with pastor Claude Guillot at the request of his parents who had even signed a contract with the man of the Evangelist Baptiste church authorizing him to use the correction . It was only at the age of 21 that the victim managed to get out of the grip of the pastor, and this, by “mourning” his parents.

Joshua Seanosky and Marc Levasseur, two victims of Claude Guillot.

Photo Nicolas Saillant

Joshua Seanosky and Marc Levasseur, two victims of Claude Guillot.

“I am relieved, happy with this verdict. To finally be recognized in everything we’ve been through feels good, but it doesn’t take away everything we’ve been through, the permanent scars,” he said when he left court. Claude Guillot was found guilty of 18 of the 22 charges against him for assault, harassment and forcible confinement between 1982 and 2014 on five victims in Victoriaville and Quebec.

Judge Christian Boulet did not accept the defense of the right of correction. “Throughout his testimony, the defendant attempts to camouflage the truth by minimizing the number of slaps, the force used to administer them, the duration of the other consequences inflicted”, he decided, speaking of a pastor “choleric”.

With a wooden pallet

“The evidence shows that during all these years, the complainants feared the accused and his controlling, dominating, violent and depersonalizing behavior to force them to think like him,” wrote the judge in his decision. The 71-year-old pastor was acquitted of charges against a sixth boy on legal grounds although the judge believed his testimony.

Among the corrections inflicted by Guillot, the judge retains the numerous blows of a “wooden pallet” inflicted on the victims to correct them for “rebellion or disobedience”. “The accused presents himself as a savior who was going to put him and his brothers back on the right path, give them a good life and prevent his mother from destroying them”, can we read in the judgment.

Another consequence inflicted by the accused was to keep them in a standing position for several consecutive days from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. One of the victims counted 41 such days, so much so that his hands grew twice as big due to accumulated blood.

Water rationing, sequestration in the basement of the residence and the obligation to make up to 2000 squats (leg flexions) are also part of the physical abuse considered. “His religious beliefs and fears that the plaintiffs would stray from his teachings do not constitute excuses which authorized him to sequester them”, adds the judge.

More steps

However, the procedures started in 2015 have not been completed. After the verdict, the prosecutor Mand Sonia Lapointe asked that Guillot be imprisoned immediately, which the judge refused after a short debate.

The victims still want an exemplary sentence and intend to “continue to fight for justice”. Moreover, a civil class action has also been authorized against the pastor and his church.

What they said:

  • “Throughout his testimony, the defendant attempts to cover up the truth by minimizing the number of slaps, the force used to administer them, the duration of other consequences inflicted which he otherwise admits to, and the harm resulting from the consequences,” decision of Judge Boulet
  • “Josh believed the defendant, who, based on biblical examples, told him that he would be buried in the ground if he decided to leave him or report him,” the judge said.
  • “The children could not go to the cinema, to the museum, or have access to certain books for example Harry Potter or the Walt Disney collection because it was contrary to biblical values,” the judge said.
  • “It relieves and at the same time it hurts to think again that this man beat me with a stick”. Marc Levasseur, victim in Victoriaville when he was 4 years old.
  • “It was very very hard to hear our attacker laughing at us. Outright denying the truth”, Joshua Seanosky.
  • “The legal proceedings were long, it was an obstacle course for them. They had a lot of support, it took a lot of courage. I think that the full house demonstrated the legitimacy of this approach, “Mr.and Sonia Lapointe, prosecutor for the DPCP.

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