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Lenient Rape Sentence Criticized

January 27, 1998

MONTREAL (AP) _ In a decision criticized as racist and sexist, a Quebec judge gave two Haitian men lenient sentences for sexual assault because she said their attitude toward women was influenced by their culture.

Judge Monique Dubreuil on Monday sentenced Patrick Lucien, 24, and Evens Sannon, 23, to 18-month terms under house arrest rather than in prison. The men must not contact the Haitian victim of the 1996 assault and must perform 100 hours each of community service.

``The absence of regret of the two accused seems to be related more to the cultural context, particularly with regard to relations with women,″ the judge said.

Prosecutor Helene Di Salvo had asked for five years in prison for Sannon and four years for Lucien. She is appealing Dubreuil’s decision to allow the men to serve the sentences at home.

The victim, a Haitian woman who is now 19, testified Monday that she agreed to accompany one of the men home from a bar but once she realized they were not alone, she didn’t want to stay.

The roommates then held her down and took turns having sex with her, covering her mouth to muffle her screams.

Eric Faustin, director of a Haitian religious organization in Montreal, called the judge’s decision ``scandalous.″

``She’s saying it’s normal for Haitian men to carry out group rape and not feel any remorse,″ Faustin said. ``I find that outrageous.″

In Haiti, women’s rights activist Evelyne Margron also assailed the ruling.

``The judge is saying that Haitian women consent to being sexually assaulted. It is as false in Haiti as elsewhere,″ Margron said Tuesday. ``I fear that if the victim had been a white Canadian, the judge would have been less lenient.″

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