Accused of sexually assaulting his sister while she slept on a joint trip to Quebec City, a 37-year-old man from Gatineau escaped jail after the court found the defense of sexsomnia presented by a sleep expert to be "compelling".
• Read also: Sexsomnia: the spouse and ex-spouse of the accused testify
"My brother, my hero, raped me [...] How do you live when you see the face of my abuser in mine? testified the sister of the accused. If the 35-year-old complainant was indeed the victim of a sexual assault by her brother, she will never be able to identify him as the culprit.
The man, who cannot be identified to protect the complainant, nevertheless admitted having introduced his fingers into the private parts of his sister in January 2019 when the two slept in the same bed at a friend's house in Quebec.
However, he presented expert evidence and pleaded sexsomnia to explain involuntary acts.
Similar gestures on others
In addition to a sleep neurologist who established that the defendant "most certainly suffers" from somnambulism causing him to perform involuntary sexual acts when he sleeps, the defendant's spouse and ex-spouse have testified to acts similar to those described by the complainant.
"The account of the two witnesses has significant similarities to each other and to that of the complainant," Judge Rachel Gagnon determined.
The spouses said that they had been awakened several times over the years by digital stimulation from the accused while they were lying on their backs.
The latter had at this moment a blank stare and the awkward gesture, but stopped when he was pushed back without keeping a memory of the episode when he woke up.
"Were it not for their involuntary nature, the actions taken by the accused would have constituted sexual assaults", concluded the judge.
In January 2019, the defendant was aware of his sleep parasomnia, but had slept with his sister, believing that he only exhibited this kind of behavior with people for whom he had a sexual attraction.
Although he now avoids sleeping with anyone other than his spouse, "it is very likely that in the future the accused will find himself in a condition similar to that in which he was at the material time. “, estimated the magistrate.
Based on a series of criteria, Judge Gagnon determined that the accused still posed a threat to others.
She considers that the state of automatism in which he was at the time of the events results from a mental disorder.
It was therefore a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder that was imposed rather than an acquittal.
If the Gatineau resident does not go to prison, his file has however been transferred to the Commission for the Review of Mental Disorders, which will follow up on the accused. He is therefore still subject to the conditions of release that prevailed since his arrest, although he is not subject to imprisonment.