Trial of a man accused of threats | “I was deeply shocked by the violence,” confides Sophie Durocher

Columnist Sophie Durocher collapsed to the ground in tears after reading a tweet in which people wanted to “slap” her into a “coma” in 2022, she said Wednesday at the trial of the man accused of threatening her. The accused, for his part, insisted that he meant a “media” slap and a “journalistic” coma.


Published at 1:55 p.m.



“The comments deeply disturbed me. I had a physical reaction. I collapsed,” Sophie Durocher said, her voice breaking with emotion. “I was deeply shocked by the violence of the comments,” she continued.

The columnist of the Montreal Journal testified Wednesday at the trial of Martin Larouche, at the Montreal courthouse. The 52-year-old man is accused of death threats and criminal harassment. Charges filed by summary procedure, therefore of lesser gravity.

This tweet posted on Twitter (now X) by Martin Larouche on August 2, 2022, is at the heart of the dispute: “Durocher deserves to be slapped so hard that she falls into a coma for a couple of years.” The Internet user, an opponent of the COVID-19 vaccine, was reacting to a comment by Sophie Durocher on COVID.

PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

Martin Larouche, a 52-year-old man, is accused of threatening to kill and harassing columnist Sophie Durocher. His lawyer Me Marylie Côté is at his side at the Montreal courthouse.

After the tweet was published, Sophie Durocher invited Martin Larouche to apologize or withdraw his comments, otherwise she would file a complaint with the police. Which she did a few days later.

“I felt that my integrity and my security were threatened,” the columnist testified. As she walked down the street, she even wondered if the accused would not carry out his “threats” or if someone else would be inspired by the tweet. “Would someone […] “Will you slap me?” she wondered.

“I had a hard time imagining that anyone could suggest that a journalist who does her job deserves to end up in a coma for several years,” says Sophie Durocher.

A few days later, Martin Larouche wrote a private message to Sophie Durocher on Twitter in which he “sincerely” apologized for his “very poorly chosen” words. “Basically, with this Tweet, I simply wanted to wish you that karma will give you a return favor,” he wrote.

The accused’s remarks were a way of “reiterating his threats,” according to Sophie Durocher. In addition, this private message was a way of “getting into [s]”intimacy” and the use of the informal “tu” represented an “extremely disturbing proximity”, according to her.

Martin Larouche sent a second private apology message to Sophie Durocher. But she claims not to have seen it.

In cross-examination, defense attorney Me Marylie Côté pointed out that Sophie Durocher had written about the “slap affair” in August 2022. In her column, the complainant devotes several paragraphs to Martin Larouche’s partner (without naming him). She describes him as a “very normal little man.”

Sophie Durocher also mentioned in cross-examination that she had followed Matin Larouche on Twitter after the publication of the disputed tweet. “To understand how far he would go in his remarks. It was totally justified,” she replied.

His tweet was a “metaphor”

Martin Larouche claims to have sent his tweet “in the heat of the moment” and without “thinking.” He did not appreciate a message from Sophie Durocher that, in his eyes, encouraged violence against the unvaccinated. He says he had a hard time dealing with his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine, since he lost his job and friends.

According to Martin Larouche, his tweet was a “metaphor.” He had no intention of encouraging people to physically attack Sophie Durocher. “There was nothing physical,” he insists. However, he concedes that his comment was “disgraceful.”

When he wrote that the columnist “deserves to be slapped,” he meant a “media” slap. “I wanted her to lose her very harmful influence,” he said.

Martin Larouche claims to have written to Sophie Durocher twice in private to apologize and to tell her that he had no violent intentions. “I wanted to resolve this through dialogue,” he testifies.

On the other hand, the accused believed that his tweet would only be intended for the man to whom he had responded on Twitter. However, under cross-examination, Martin Larouche admitted knowing that his message was public and that other users could see it. “Yes, it was a risk,” he conceded to the Crown prosecutor, Ms.e Jessica Drolet.

His cross-examination continues Wednesday afternoon before Judge Alexandre Dalmau.

-

-

PREV the paradox of international aid
NEXT Between guilt and strategies, teenagers face “doomscrolling”