Jail guard receives conditional sentence

By Phil Ambroziak

An admitted sex offender will not spend time behind bars.

That was the ruling made by Judge Janet McIvor when Meadow Lake resident Denis Bienvenue appeared in provincial court June 29 to answer to a sexual assault charge dating back to March 10. That’s when it was discovered the 71-year-old had abused his responsibilities as a guard at the local RCMP detachment by engaging in touching of a sexual nature with a female prisoner.

According to police, video surveillance footage showed Bienvenue – who had been employed as a guard through the Corps of Commissionaires – remove the prisoner from the cell block area. This is not common practice and, upon further investigation, the charge was laid. Bienvenue subsequently pleaded guilty and is no longer employed at the detachment.

“I’m going to cut right to the chase,” McIvor said prior to issuing Bienvenue a nine-month conditional sentence. “You were in a position of trust and I know you know that. You had in your care young men and women who had been arrested, who had their liberty taken from them. You, in every sense of the word, were their gatekeeper.”

While Bienvenue’s lawyer, Ben Partyka, asked for the matter to be discharged based on his client’s age, the fact Bienvenue does not have a previous record and because statements made to police indicated the plaintiff consented to the interaction, the Crown sought a four-month conditional sentence. Both lawyers were in agreement, however, the victim encouraged Bienvenue’s actions in exchange for a cigarette.

“I think, sir, people are trying to be fair to you,” McIvor told Bienvenue. “However, what I heard today in submissions and as a result of the RCMP investigation, is quite frankly victim blaming. It might be all her words, but at the end of the day she is still a complainant. Maybe she was manipulative, but you, sir, were the person in power, the person in control.”

The judge went on to express how Bienvenue’s actions brought disrepute to the Corps of Commissionaires, a group the RCMP depends on to help with day-to-day responsibilities at the detachment.

“This should be a jail sentence – to give you anything less is against public interest,” she said. “However, you’re not going to serve actual jail time. I know this has been difficult for you, Meadow Lake is a small town, you’ve lived here a number of years and your wife is present. I hope this doesn’t happen again because you also have to live with the public embarrassment this has caused.”

The nine-month sentence ordered by McIvor requires Bienvenue to keep the peace, appear in court when requested, report to a probation officer or supervisor, remain in Saskatchewan, notify his supervisor of any change of address or employment, agree to and abide by a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, not to consume any alcohol or non-prescription drugs, not to possess any firearms or ammunition and to complete a counselling program.

“Good luck to you,” McIvor said.

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