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Man seeks government compensation for son killed by pedophile

Article by: Sidhartha Banerjee, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL – September 13, 2009
Man seeks government compensation for son killed by pedophile
Sidhartha Banerjee, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL – It’s been almost a decade since Andre Livernoche’s son was sexually assaulted and murdered by a convicted pedophile who should have not been freed from jail.
After years of waiting, he’s getting a chance to demand compensation, in front of a Quebec judge Monday for the brutal sex-slaying of his son Alexandre.
He was initially offered $17,500 by the Quebec government, but Livernoche has scoffed at the amount.
Most Canadian provinces and territories have compensation programs for crime victims, though all have different guidelines as to when and how the money is doled out.
But Quebec in particular has no clear rules for awarding victims of violent crime, something victims’ rights advocate Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu knows this first-hand.
When his own daughter Julie, 27, was murdered in 2002, the Quebec government initially awarded him just $600 for funeral expenses. That amount has since been changed to $3,000.
Boisvenu said most people don’t have the financial means to battle the government in court. Those who do often wait years to receive a civil award – if they’re lucky.
Livernoche filed in 2006. He said he doesn’t know what awaits him when he arrives Monday in Quebec Superior Court, but he says the dispute should have been settled amicably, long ago.
“What do you want me to say? I’m going to trial, the system leads me there,” Livernoche said in an interview.
“I didn’t want to go to trial, I don’t believe in it.”
Convicted pedophile Mario Bastien was found guilty in 2001 of first-degree murder in the brutal August 2000 sexual assault and murder of Alexandre Livernoche, 13.
The killer was out on an extended pass from a detention centre where he was serving time for several unrelated offences.
Alexandre disappeared in Sorel, northeast of Montreal, after picking cucumbers. His trial heard that Bastien enticed Alexandre with the promise of odd jobs so he could repay his mother for a scooter.
Three weeks after the slaying, then-public security minister Serge Menard said Bastien shouldn’t have been let out, and a subsequent government study said the province needed more probation officers and better information on released prisoners.
Justice Rejean Paul of the Quebec Superior Court said there was no way Bastien should have been allowed out on parole and called him a sadistic pedophile after Bastien was handed a life sentence.
All these things add up to compensation, Livernoche argues. He says he’s asking for $2.5 million but his initial claim amount, according to court records, is $400,000.
Canadian provinces and territories have a wide range of compensation programs that vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another. According to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, the amounts paid out can vary from $2,000 to $127,000.
But what’s particular in this case is that the government and other officials have said publicly that the state committed an error. Livernoche insists it’s not about the money, but the principle.
“It’s a question of principle. There was an error committed, admitted,” Livernoche said.
“They (the government) admitted it. . . The trial should really be to determine the amount.”
The government has tried on at least two occasions to settle with Livernoche, who has rejected both offers. He was initially offered $17,500 and that offer was upped recently to $45,000.
Alexandre’s mother, Sylvie Girard, and two brothers, also sued for $900,000 before accepting a settlement from the government.
Livernoche, a cancer survivor, is on welfare and has no money. His phone was recently cut off and he says he needs a quick resolution because he cannot afford to stay in a Montreal hotel for any extended period.
But regardless, he says, he’ll find his way to the big city from the rural village of St-Bruno-de-Kamouraska, in the Lower St-Lawrence where he lives, for his son’s sake.
“I hope it all ends soon, I hope I find peace,” he said.
“When a child dies like that, it’s hard to find peace. It’s been nine years and I can’t remember the good memories. I remember how Alexandre died.”