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Quebec committee stands by legal clinic after founder’s departure on misconduct claim

Lawyer Marc-Antoine Cloutier speaks with reporters in a Montreal courthouse Tuesday, September 20, 2016. An all-party Quebec committee looking at helping victims and survivors of sexual and conjugal violence say they stand behind a legal clinic following the recent departure of its founder due to misconduct allegations. The committee comprising members of the four major provincial political parties said in a statement Friday they were surprised and upset by the allegations against Juripop founding lawyer and chairman Marc-Antoine Cloutier. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

An all-party Quebec committee looking at helping victims and survivors of sexual and conjugal violence say they stand behind a legal clinic following the recent departure of its founder due to misconduct allegations.

The committee comprising members of the four major provincial political parties said in a statement Friday it was surprised and upset by the allegations against Juripop founding lawyer and chairman Marc-Antoine Cloutier.

Cloutier announced in a letter one week earlier that he was stepping down from the organization he’d founded, denying allegations against him and urging the clinic to be allowed to continue in its work.

The lawmakers say in a joint statement on Friday that they want Juripop to continue that important work, having assisted 500 people in sexual assault cases in the past few months alone.

READ MORE: Quebecers experiencing sexual violence, workplace harassment can get free legal aid from Juripop

They say they are satisfied with the transparency and introspection shown by the organization in dealing with Cloutier’s departure.

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The committee is tasked with coming up with recommendations on improving support for sexual assault and domestic violence victims, who often feel let down by the system.

It had sought an explanation from the non-profit in the aftermath of Cloutier’s departure, given the organization had received a $2.6-million grant for a pilot project to offer free support and legal advice to victims of sexual violence last December.

The committee is comprised of Coalition Avenir Quebec’s Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible for the status of women, Isabelle Melancon of the Quebec Liberal Party, Parti Quebecois member Veronique Hivon and Quebec solidaire member Christine Labrie.

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