“I really didn’t want to, but I didn’t say anything, because he was someone who had a lot of authority”: a young adult recalled the disturbing gestures of Thierry Karsenti, an eminent researcher at the University of Montreal accused of sexual contact with a minor. The man in his fifties caressed his genitals a dozen times, each time plunging the then 11-year-old victim into deep discomfort, according to his testimony Monday in Longueuil.
The touching began in 2015 outside the province and continued regularly over a period of a year and a half in Brossard, according to the complainant.
Thierry Karsenti would have taken advantage of moments when he was alone with the victim to commit the acts of which he is accused. Each time, the 54-year-old allegedly asked the 11-year-old boy to lie on his back to pat his bottom. He would also have slipped his hand into his pants to caress his genitals.
“It lasted about ten minutes. I was a little uncomfortable. It was not a good time,” described the victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.
These touches occurred a dozen times, said the young man now 18 years old calmly and eloquently before judge Anne-Marie Beauchemin.
Each time, the defendant in his 50s would have left the room where he was as if nothing had happened. He asked the victim trivial questions “to normalize behavior,” noted Crown Prosecutor Me Anne Gauvin during her interrogation.
The accused would even have entered a bathroom while the victim was taking a shower. He then allegedly pulled the shower curtain to observe his genitals. “I had barred the door. He forced the door open and came in to talk to me. »
The moment would have lasted two to three minutes and plunges the victim into deep discomfort. “I didn’t feel very comfortable. I turned to hide,” the young adult explained.
The plaintiff told his mother everything in September 2019. “I didn’t want to lie to her, so I confessed to her what happened. He decides to file a complaint the following month.
His memories were rather hazy then. It is by talking with his mother that he manages to remember the details of the assaults, he explained to Judge Beauchemin.
He has long tried to forget these touches, said the young man. He didn’t tell anyone about it. ” I was ashamed. I’m still embarrassed with adults. I keep a lot of stuff to myself. It was not something pleasant. »
“If no one had come to tell me about it, I wouldn’t have told anyone,” the victim added.
Me Clara Daviault, who is defending the accused, questioned the victim about some discrepancies between the account delivered in the courtroom on Monday morning and his statement to the police at the time of the complaint presented in evidence shortly after.
“It was fuzzy in my head,” the victim replied.
Me Daviault also asked the victim for a detailed description of the touching in his cross-examination. The young man was questioned about the order in which the various sexual gestures would have occurred. “I remember I was on my back [when he started],” the victim explained.
Thierry Karsenti, university researcher in digital education, was arrested in February 2021.
The accused holds the Canada Research Chair in Information and Communication Technologies in Education. He is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Andragogy. He is also director of the Center for Interuniversity Research on Training and the Teaching Profession, which brings together more than 100 researchers from around the world.
The trial started Monday at the Longueuil courthouse continues until Wednesday.