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Hearing begins for alleged sexual assault victims of dead ex-hockey coach seeking class action

François Lamarre was arrested on Dec. 4. Dan Spector/Global News

A virtual hearing to request authorization of a class action lawsuit related to sexual assault accusations against a former Montreal police officer and hockey coach was held Thursday morning in Longueuil.

The plaintiff lawyers, including Pierre Boivin, asked Quebec Superior court judge Pierre Gagnon to approve their class action lawsuit against the city of Longueuil, on behalf of John Cormier, one alleged sexual assault victim of Francois Lamarre.

Cormier claims he was assaulted over a five-year period in the 1970s when he was a 10-year-old hockey player. Lawyers for Cormier say he chose to give up his anonymity normally granted in sexual assault trials.

The city of Longueuil did not contest the hearing, which Boivin said sped up the process, with the morning proceeding only taking a few hours.

Lamarre was charged in December, 2019 with gross indecency, indecent exposure, sexual assault, sexual touching and invitation to sexual touching, involving four male victims aged between nine and 16.  After his initial arrest, more alleged victims came forward, including a Longueuil municipal councillor. Lamarre died in July last year before facing trial.

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The lawyers involved hope more victims come forward.

“I would not be surprised if there are hundreds of victims,” Boivin said.

READ MORE: Ex-Montreal police officer, hockey coach accused of sex crimes dies amid legal proceedings

The request for authorization of the suit accuses Lamarre of sexually abusing dozens, and possibly hundreds of children over a 30-year period. It includes time when he worked as a minor hockey coach in Greenfield Park, which which is now part of Longueuil.

The lawyers allege the city failed to protect the children from Lamarre’s actions. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Lamarre retired from the Montreal police force in 1994, and none of his alleged crimes were believed to have occurred while he was on duty.

The lead petitioner is a man who alleges he was sexually abused by Lamarre in the 1970s beginning when he was a 10-year-old hockey player.

The applicants are asking for $10,000,000 in punitive damages, as well as additional money for damages for each of the victims in an amount to be determined by the court.

Boivin says he hopes a decision on whether the lawsuit can proceed or not will be rendered within a month.

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