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Quebecer who sexually abused Cuban girl for years will learn sentence in May

“There is definitely an element of exploitation here,” Quebec Court Judge Alexandre Dalmau said during sentencing arguments.

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A man from Vaudreuil-Dorion who married a woman in Cuba and sexually abused her young daughter for years while recording some of the abuse will learn next month what sentence he is expected to serve for his crimes.

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Last year, at the Montreal courthouse, Alain Vandette, 59, pleaded guilty to sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, producing child pornography and possessing it.

He has been detained since April 2019, when he was arrested by the Montreal police who found more than 2,000 photographs and 546 videos of children being sexually abused, including the daughter of the woman he married, on his computers.

In March, prosecutor Jérôme Laflamme asked that Vandette receive a 15-year sentence.

Defence lawyer Rodolphe Bourgeois said on Tuesday that his client is very open to therapy and argued Vandette still does not understand why he is attracted to children. The attorney argued that, in other similar cases, offenders merited an eight-year sentence. But, Bourgeois said, his client merits an overall six-year prison term because he is open to therapy.

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“He recognizes that he has a problem and he is working on it,” Bourgeois said.

Two experts who evaluated Vandette informed the court that while Vandette is open to therapy he has a lot of work to do before he understands the harm he has done.

A standard publication ban has been placed on the victim’s name.

When Vandette pleaded guilty, he said he met the girl’s mother while in Cuba because he was having a hard time starting relationships with women in Quebec. He also said the woman was living in poverty while making 50 cents a day cleaning toilets at a gas station. He also said he built the woman a house for her in Cuba, bought her a pig because she had nothing to eat and that her daughter had no toys at all when they first met.

Some of the videos found in Vandette’s possession showed the woman sexually abusing her daughter. The videos and photos seized from his computers proved the girl had developed physically over a long period of time while she was abused.

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What is certain is that a series of videos seized by police were recorded while the victim was 13 years old. The girl appeared to be much younger — possibly as young as seven years old — in the photos or videos recorded when the abuse started.

The evidence also revealed Vandette consumed child pornography before he met the woman.

According to what was said in court on Tuesday, the girl’s mother is currently behind bars in Cuba.

When he was arrested, Vandette told the police that he was “dependent” on child pornography and said he considered his problem to be “an illness.” But when he pleaded guilty he said he did not pursue a relationship with the woman with the intention of abusing her daughter.

“There is definitely an element of exploitation here,” Dalmau said at one point during an exchange with Bourgeois. The judge noted how the man recorded images of the girl being abused, brought them back to Canada and then returned to Cuba to record more images. The judge also noted how Vandette had the girl’s mother pose with her daughter in ways that reproduced images of child pornography he already had.

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Dalmau also pointed out how, when Vandette pleaded guilty and was asked to reflect on the consequences of his crimes, he said that the girl and her mother lost the house he had built for them and that he couldn’t relate to such a thing because it never happened to him.

“There is not a better definition of the absence of empathy than that,” the judge said while adding later that Vandette is “incapable of expressing empathy.”

Dalmau is scheduled to deliver his decision on the sentence on May 27.

Vandette is currently charged, at the Valleyfield courthouse, with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation of another minor. The alleged abuse in that case took place between 1998 and 2004. That trial is scheduled to begin in September.

pcherry@postmedia.com

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