Former Montreal Pride President Éric Pineault is accused of sexually assaulting a young man who had “blind trust” in him. The former figurehead of the LGBT movement had a history of sexual exploitation of a teenager, reveals a court document, which reports his many inappropriate behaviors at work.
“Your president Éric Pineault is a rapist, a liar and a manipulator. He went to jail […] What would the community think upon hearing [this] […] Get your things in order and make some changes, otherwise we will reveal the information in five days. Be warned.”
This anonymous email, written in English, had the effect of a bombshell within Montreal Pride. All employees of the organization received it on August 5, 2020. The next day, there was shock in the community: the president-founder Éric Pineault was suspended indefinitely for “sexual misconduct”.
Since then, no information had been leaked on this case, until La Presse learned that Éric Pineault had appeared at the Montreal courthouse last January for a charge of sexual assault. A court order protects the complainant’s identity.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Éric Pineault declined to comment on the case.
A police report filed in court to obtain Pride Montreal’s internal investigation report lifts the veil on the underside of this affair which has caused a crisis within the organization which has represented the rights and interests of the LGBTQ community since 2007.
We learn that Éric Pineault was sentenced in 1995 in Ottawa to a count of sexual exploitation. He sexually touched a teenager while he was in a position of authority or trust with him. Eric Pineault, then 22, was sentenced to 60 days in jail on weekends and two years probation.
A few days after the mysterious anonymous email was sent, a man decides to file a complaint against Éric Pineault, feeling “liberated” not to be the only victim. However, he regrets not having denounced him earlier, since Éric Pineault would have made “two other victims”, according to his words.
His account of the alleged assault is detailed in the written statement of a detective sergeant from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).
The Complainant considered Éric Pineault his “mentor”. He even had “blind faith” in him. In his police interrogation, the plaintiff describes the accused as a “very witty and tactile” man who “touches young boys a lot” and who made people uncomfortable with his jokes about the “size of his penis”.
In the fall of 2016, Éric Pineault invited the plaintiff to take a “reiki” course on the South Shore. “Reiki” is described as an “energy transfer” technique, without any tactile contact.
A month later, the plaintiff went to Éric Pineault to undergo such treatment. He then wears a “sexy” underwear offered by the accused. He offers to undress him, but the complainant is not comfortable. However, he agrees to put a towel around his waist. During the session, Éric Pineault first touches her temples, which he finds “odd”, since Reiki is done without contact.
“In the last half hour, he’s starting to brush against him. Éric rubbed the [complainant]’s pubis, massaging it for a good minute. He pushes his underwear more and more. He tucked his hand into his panties and gripped his penis for 5-10 seconds. It completely enveloped his penis and testicles. He stiffened by surprise, froze and had no reaction, ”details the police document.
Two years later, the plaintiff recounted the events to a person who, furious, confronted Éric Pineault. Subsequently, the relationship between the complainant and the accused darkened. At parties, Éric Pineault encouraged him to drink and called him a “fif”, he told the police.
The case should be back in court on June 15 at a still preliminary stage.
In a written statement sent to La Presse on Wednesday, the general manager of Pride Montreal, Simon Gamache, assures that “the safety and the physical, psychological and moral integrity of our team are paramount”.
“Montreal Pride’s organizational culture must live up to our values - those of the 2SLGBTQIA communities to which we belong – promoting the development of all,” he explains cautiously.
In August 2020, Montreal Pride had indefinitely suspended its president and founder Éric Pineault, the time to examine reports of “sexual misconduct”. The news then fell four days before the start of the festival. Mr. Pineault ultimately never returned to the management of the organization.
Three months later, in November 2020, the organization said it wanted to turn the page on an “inappropriate” work climate which resulted in particular in jokes or gestures of a sexual nature internally. Former members and volunteers, however, said they expected concrete results, denouncing an internal “law of silence”.
“Events made it necessary to act,” said Marie-Ève Baron, who was then the president of this organization which has represented the rights and interests of the LGBTQ community since 2007.
“We are going through a crisis and difficult times. But we don’t stick our heads in the sand. We intend to learn from that and learn more about oppression in the workplace, “said Ms. Baron on this subject.
Since then, the Montreal Pride team has been completely renewed, led by the arrival of General Manager Simon Gamache and President Moe Hamandi.