“I’ve always been afraid of Claude. He terrified me,” breathes Johanne*. Repeatedly assaulted during her childhood, a woman gave a moving testimony in court. Her executioner, Claude Thibodeau, was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting five young girls over three decades.
“Several victims use the phrase: he stole my childhood. Me, he stole much more than my childhood. Claude Thibodeau robbed me of my carelessness, my naivety, my self-esteem, my self-confidence, my self-respect, my esteem, my dignity,” said Johanne, now in her 40s.
Claude Thibodeau had five victims between 1984 and 2015, girls aged 6 to 14. If most of the girls were part of his entourage, one of them had the misfortune to knock on his door to sell chocolate, while he was living in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
Another victim was still in elementary school, while she was giving oral sex to Claude Thibodeau. It was then to “do good” to him that he proposed to the child a sexual relationship with penetration. When she complained of pain, the perpetrator reassured her that it would “hurt less” next time.
“Claude would like to see you naked,” Claude Thibodeau told two other victims. The pedophile especially liked to watch pornographic films with children. On one occasion, he asked his victim if she wanted to do the same as the girl in the film. He often told her that it was their “secret”.
“I feel like a part of my innocence has been stolen,” another victim told the court. She was just 7 years old when the first assault took place. Since then, the young woman has lived in an “omnipresent” fear of meeting her executioner again, to the point of never answering the door.
Johanne* was so afraid of Claude Thibodeau when she reported her to the police that she barricaded herself in her house. “I was afraid he would kill me. I slept with a hammer under my pillow,” she said. Generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder: Johanne is scarred by childhood abuse.
Being the first victim of Claude Thibodeau, in the 80s, she has lived for years with the “shame” of not having denounced him sooner. “If I had spoken 30 years ago, these young girls might have escaped sexual assault,” she laments.
Nevertheless, Johanne was freed by her denunciation. She describes as the “gift of a lifetime” the call of a detective sergeant to find out if she was a victim of Claude Thibodeau.
” Finally ! I had dreamed of this day for 30 years. Thank you to everyone who works in the justice system. Thank you for allowing us to finally be heard.”