Longueuil, Que., police have confirmed the death of François Lamarre, 71, a former hockey coach and retired Montreal police officer charged with sexual assault involving four minors.
Lamarre, also known as Frank, was arrested on Dec. 4, 2019 and charged in Longueuil court on Dec. 19. after a lengthy investigation by Longueuil police.
Lamarre pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including gross indecency, indecent exposure, sexual assault, sexual touching and invitation to sexual touching involving four children, who were aged nine to 16 years old at the time of the alleged incidents.
According to police, the alleged incidents occurred between 1972 and 1997 in arenas, at Lamarre’s home in Greenfield Park and in his vehicle.
After Longueuil police publicized the case, 16 more victims came forward.
Longueuil police said Tuesday that Lamarre’s death of natural causes at a Montreal-area hospital on July 26 will bring an end to the legal proceedings against him.
“I’m sure that the investigators were very disappointed because they put a lot of energy on that case,” said Longueuil spokesperson Mélanie Mercille, “but it’s out of our control.”
Lamarre, who retired from the Montreal police force in 1994, served as a minor hockey coach in Greenfield Park between 1970 and 1980. The former town is now a part of the city of Longueuil.
Global News spoke to one of Lamarre’s alleged victims on Tuesday who said news of his death had elicited a range of conflicting emotions.
A court-issued publication ban still in effect prevents Global News from using the man’s name.
“I guess the most disappointing part about it for me, anyway, is that the court case was supposed to be next week, Aug. 6, on Thursday,” he said.
“We wanted to see him incarcerated for the pain that he’s caused the citizens of our community over the last 40 years.”
The disappointment was also followed by a sense of relief at not having to relive the experiences in court.
But mostly, the victim expressed regret.
“I think the biggest emotion since this came to light was really the regret that I didn’t speak out many, many years ago,” they said.
“I could have saved a lot of kids going through what I had. And that’s something I guess I’ll have to live with now for the rest of my life.”
Marie-Christine Michaud, spokesperson of the Crime Victims Assistance Centre’s network, said all those feelings are normal, but she had an important message for victims.
“It might be possible that today some of those men can be ashamed of themselves saying, ‘oh, how come I didn’t come forward before, you know?'” she said.
“It’s very important to say to them that they are not the ones who are responsible.”
She also said that while trials can often be very difficult for victims, they can also be an important part of the healing process.
According to Michaud, trials often provide answers to the question, “Why me?” and affords survivors a chance to be heard and seen.
“It’s a place where they can say to the people the impact on their lives,” Michaud said.
In the case where a trial doesn’t happen, Michaud said it’s especially important for victims and even family members to seek out support, for themselves or loved ones.
CAVAC is one such organization that offers resources to victims, their families and also to witnesses.
Lamarre’s alleged victims could decide to pursue a civil case against his estate.
— With files from the Canadian Press