Publisher AdA, known for its literary collection of banned stories, has dropped its $4 million lawsuit against the Directorate of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP), La Presse has learned.
Updated yesterday at 6:00 am.
The founder of AdA, François Doucet, his wife Nancy Coulombe and their son Nycolas Doucet, the publisher's current general director, had turned against the DPCP after their acquittal on charges of improper prosecution for the production and distribution of child pornography. An accusation arising from a complaint based on an incest scene published in an adult rereading of Hansel and Gretel signed by the author Yvan Godbout.
The Doucet family did not want to comment on the reasons for this withdrawal. One of his lawyers, Me Frédéric Laflamme of the Lavery de Billy law firm, was no more talkative. However, last summer, François Doucet told La Presse that his lawyers were having difficulty obtaining internal written communications from the attorney general's office justifying the prosecution.
Éditions AdA's lawyers had to prove that there were “no valid reasons” and that “an illegitimate aim was pursued”, which is no easy task given the DPCP's “relative immunity”.
In 2022, an expert report signed by a former Crown prosecutor, Me René Verret, attempted to answer these questions. He concluded that the Crown prosecutor should have requested “additional evidence” before moving forward and that he “apparently failed to take into account the devastating impact of the prosecution on the defendants.”
“The Supreme Court recognizes that prosecutorial immunity is not absolute and that it cannot protect the Crown from abusive prosecution. […] The plaintiff’s burden is to prove that the pursuer had no reasonable and probable cause to pursue him,” Éditions AdA’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit, before detailing the errors made by the DPCP.
“No excuse for violence”
In essence, Éditions AdA reiterates that the definition of child pornography itself, which is defined in the Criminal Code as “any writing whose predominant feature is the description of sexual activity with a person under ten to eight years of age for sexual purposes.” […] » does not apply to the novel signed by Yvan Godbout, who was also prosecuted in this case.
“On a total of 251 pages, the book contains only a few short sexually explicit passages involving minors, all of which serve a purpose that is not sexual in nature,” write the lawyers at Éditions AdA. The figure of the abusive stepfather is described in the novel by author Yvan Godbout as a “pig” and a “monster”. »
Hansel and Gretel is in no way an excuse for sexual violence or pedophilia. It was never intended to arouse desire or excitement in the reader, but rather to arouse fear, terror and disgust.
The lawyers at Éditions AdA
The lawsuit also mentions “the lack of legal precedent in matters of literary works,” the DPCP’s decision to proceed “by direct prosecution,” depriving the publisher and its author of the right to a preliminary investigation, “the desire of the DPCP scrutinized a provision of a new law, a test case, and the “relentlessness” of the Attorney General, which, despite their acquittal, “damaged the reputation” and “financial situation” of the targets.
Acquitted in 2020
In September 2020, judge Marc-André Blanchard acquitted publisher AdA and author Yvan Godbout, recognizing that “the literary material does not advise or advocate the commission of sexual acts.” He also concludes that his “ban” “does not protect children” and “interferes with freedom of expression.”
It must be said that the DPCP's evidence was based essentially on the testimony of a criminologist from the Sûreté du Québec, Sarah Paquette, who confirmed that the publication of the novel Hansel and Gretel “could have the effect of alerting the reader to it.” that the novel is content.” [était] acceptable”. At the same time, Ms. Paquette refused to establish a causal connection between “a literary description” and the emergence of “atypical sexual interests.” Remember that there were no victims in this story.
Despite the acquittal of Éditions AdA and author Yvan Godbout, in April 2021 the Attorney General tried to take the case to the Supreme Court on a constitutional issue, but the Supreme Court rejected the request for permission to appeal against Judge Blanchard's decision.
The lawsuit against AdA Editions was filed following this incident in September 2021. It was dismissed on November 23 after more than two years of litigation, ending the case.