Guard at Montreal youth safety centre acquitted of sexual assault

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A former security guard at a youth protection centre in Montreal was acquitted Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing a teenage boy.

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Quebec Court Judge Joëlle Roy said the evidence against Jose Manuel Antunes Reis, 39, was “almost non-existent.”

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Antunes Reis was acquitted of sexual assault and touching a minor for a sexual purpose. A standard publication ban has been placed on information that could identify the boy.

Antunes Reis, of Montreal, was alleged to have touched a boy’s penis on Dec. 8, 2020 while he was making his rounds and as the youth slept in his bedroom at the centre in eastern Montreal.  

Antunes Reis underwent a three-day trial in October. The case rested mainly on the boy’s version of events and testimony from two employees who witnessed how the boy reacted the following morning.

The accused did not present a defence, but in his closing arguments defence lawyer Antonio Cabral told Roy the boy was unable to pinpoint when he was touched, or whether the alleged incident happened during Antunes Reis’s shift.

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The boy testified he couldn’t see the face of the person who touched him because it was dark in his room. Cabral argued another boy at the centre had the same build as the security guard.

After Roy delivered her decision, the boy’s mother became emotional, saying she was disappointed and felt “powerless.”

The mother questioned why the centre did not have cameras installed in its common areas when her son was there in 2020. Video surveillance while guards made their rounds could have provided evidence to support her son’s allegations, she said.

She said her son knew Antunes Reis well from having spent months at the centre, and he was certain Antunes Reis was the person who touched him “even if he did not see his face.”

“I trusted them to care for my son and this happened,” she said, adding her boy was on medication, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and did not want to go to school.

My son “had the courage to denounce what happened, which is not easy for boys to do, above all for my son. He has difficulty managing his emotions. He is doing super well now. His medication has been changed.

“What happens next? Do we live with this and it finishes here? No. Someone should be held responsible.”

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  1. Jose Manuel Antunes Reis is seen at the Montreal courthouse on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. He is charged with sexually assaulting a boy at a youth protection centre while working as a security guard.

    Guard at Montreal youth protection centre on trial for alleged sexual assault of boy

  2. Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.

    Quebec announces first specialized sexual assault courts

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