COPYCAT FACTOR CITED AS WAVE OF WIFE KILLINGS SWEEP QUEBEC

from the Vancouver Sun, Thursday, October 4, 1990

by John Davidson, Canadian Press
COPYCAT FACTOR CITED AS WAVE OF WIFE KILLINGS SWEEP QUEBEC

MONTREAL-- Perhaps it's the letter to the five-year old daughter
that shocks the most.

"I hope one day you will be old enough to understand what
happened to your parents," wrote Patrick Prevost. "I loved your mother with a
passion that went as far as hatred."

Police found the piece of paper near Prevost's body in his
apartment in northeast Montreal.

They say the 39-year-old mechanic committed suicide after killing
his wife, Jocelyne Parent, 31.

The couple had been separated for a month and the woman had
gone to his apartment to talk about getting some more money for food.
A violent quarrel broke out and Prevost attacked his wife with a
kitchen knife, cutting her throat, police said.

She was only the latest of 13 women slain by a husband or
lover in Quebec in the last five weeks.

Five children have also been slain as a result of the same
domestic battles.

Last year in Quebec, 29 spouses were slain by their husbands.
That was more than one-third of suchcases across Canada, according to
statistics from the Canadian Centre for Justice.

Experts are still seeking reasons for the slayings but one
suggested answer is the copycat factor.

"Over 300,000 spouses-- one woman in eight-- are violently
beaten up by their husbands every year iun Quebec" said Elizabeth Harper,
treasurer of the Quebec association of battered women's shelters.

And every time an article about a wife-slaying appears, the
chances of another crime go up, said Harper, who added, however, the media
simply reflect a sexist society.

"The root cause of a woman being murdered by her husband is, more
often than not, that she has announced she's going to leave him.

"Many men in our society cannot handle this, so they resort
to the ultimate form of domination over their spouses-- which is to kill them.
Then, just to wipe the slate clean before they kill themselves, they kill their
children, too.

Where does this violence originate?

In some cases, it comes from men who witnessed marital violence
when they were young. And sometimes it involves husbands who have been
beating their wives for years, says Claude Roy, director of ProGam, an agency
that works with violent men.

"Most of the men who come to us for counselling have been
in and out of court for years on wife battering charges," says Roy
"I even have one man who has been married five times and has beaten
up every one of his wives.

"The most amazing thing about such violentl men is they
are all experts in denying their responsibility for their actions.
It's always booze or drugs or stress that makes them attack their
families."

Roy says the courts should start giving stiffer penalites for
conjugal violence. "The police don't lay tough enough charges and the courts,
just let the husband off with a suspended sentence," he said angrily.

Most men convicted (of wife assault in Quebec) were fined less
than $200, were given suspended sentences or conditional discharges with
probation. Only rarely were men fined more than $200/ And no man convicted
of a first offense was sent to prison.

But the majority of men charged were acquitted, mainly because
their victims wouldn't testify against them. And yet when women did testify,
they were shocked by the light sentences imposed.

 Montreal Urban Community police director John Kousic, the
highest ranking MUC officer responsible for domestic-violence cases, said the
sentences are sending a signal to women that testifying against abusers is a
waste of time.

This, he said, will only help perpetuate the cycle of domestic
violence that has shocked Quebecers and drawn national attention in recent
weeks.

(any lawyers out there? what is the usual sentence in, say, Texas,
for assault causing bodily harm if it's a first offense?)


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