MONTREAL – A self-described pastor who hoped his “marriage” to a 10-year-old girl he took to bed would convince a judge to acquit him on a sexual assault charge was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday.
Daniel Cormier, who was convicted last October following a lengthy trial, has a maximum of 49 months left behind bars because of time already served.
“I would say that there’s no remorse,” Crown prosecutor Anne-Andree Charette said outside the courtroom. “He just tried to find justifications.”
The Crown wanted the maximum prison term of 10 years, while a lawyer Cormier hired for sentencing arguments recommended between 30 months and four years behind bars, given Canadian jurisprudence..
The 57-year-old head of the now defunct Church of Downtown Montreal, who also once ran for mayor, has maintained he is not a pedophile and that he did nothing wrong as the pair were married during a ceremony at his obscure evangelical church in 1999.
Court heard he was lovestruck for the youngster.
During the trial, Quebec court Judge Sylvie Durand announced she would not hear testimony supporting his marriage defence.
The victim, who is now 19, testified she was too young to grasp the idea of marriage. She denied ever entering a union with him, but said she remembered the sexual abuse in vivid detail.
During the proceedings, court heard that Cormier’s church catered to the marginalized. Starting in 1993, he took the girl’s mother, a recovering junkie and prostitute, and her two daughters under his wing.
Relatives described Cormier as a father figure to the girls who were often invited to stay with him or go on vacation with him and other church members.
It was during such holidays that fellow parishioners became suspicious of Cormier’s relationship with the victim.
He was arrested in 2003 after a social worker notified police but the case progressed slowly through the courts as numerous motions were filed by both the Crown and Cormier, who represented himself at the trial.
When it came time for the victim to testify, she agreed to do so only via video link from an adjacent room and Cormier was barred from cross-examining her or her mother.
He declined to submit to the court an approved list of questions and rested his case without calling further witnesses or taking the stand himself.
At the time of his conviction, two additional charges of sexual touching and invitation to touching were dropped.
Cormier is currently on trial in another case involving a 16-year-old girl and could face additional jail time if convicted.
The alleged crimes, which Cormier denies committing, also date back to his time as a pastor.