MONTREAL — Quebec's top court has reduced the sentence of a 23-year-old man who had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl, while not fully sparing the man from jail time.
In a decision this week the Quebec Court of Appeal ordered Michel Caron Barrette to serve 90 days on weekends for sexual touching of a minor.
He was orginally sentenced to 14 months in 2017.
Court documents show Caron Barrette was in a relationship with the victim for about a year and half, with a break of a few months.
The two lived together as a couple with the blessing of the girl's mother, who at one point invited him to live in her home.
Police became aware of the situation after the girl's half-sister filed a complaint in June 2013 to report an abduction.
While that complaint proved to be unfounded, Caron Barrette was subsequently arrested.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual touching of a minor under the age of 16 and was handed the 14-month sentence.
Another judge who looked at the sentence wrote that the girl suffered no harm and that there was no physical or psychological violence. She also said neither hid their respective age.
Parents did not object
Caron Barrette testified in court he hadn't realized the relationship was illegal and said neither his parents nor the girl's mother had objected.
The appeals court reiterated in its ruling that the consent of someone under the age of 16 does not constitute a valid defence.
Nevertheless, consenting to sexual acts can have an impact on sentencing, the court found.
While the sexual contact included full intercourse, it occurred in a romantic relationship, according to the court, which concluded the minimum penalty of a year's imprisonment was disproportionate given the situation.
"The court is convinced that a public that is well informed of the circumstances of the present case would be outraged to see the appellant spend 14 months behind bars for having a romantic relationship that was approved and encouraged by the parents of both parties," the decision read.
The court also noted that Caron Barrette had no previous criminal record, presented no risk to reoffend and was not a sexual deviant.
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