A man who was working as a third-grade teacher up until he was arrested earlier this year when police dismantled a network of pedophiles who shared information over the Internet pleaded guilty to producing child pornography at the Montreal courthouse on Tuesday.
Claude Paquette, 32, and another man, Simon Brochu, 35, became the first two men to plead guilty to charges produced in Operation Malaise, an investigation by the Sûreté du Québec’s child sexual exploitation investigative unit.
Seventeen men have been arrested in all since January and the SQ alleged they are part of a sophisticated, computer-savvy network of men who used an online forum to share information on sexual experiences they had with children. At least three of the suspects arrested in January have also been charged with counts involving actual abuse on children.
At the time of his arrest, Paquette was teaching Grade 3 students at a French primary school on Nuns’ Island. He was immediately suspended by the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys following the arrest. On Tuesday he pleaded guilty to possessing, producing and distributing child pornography. Prosecutor Cynthia Gyenizse informed Quebec Court Judge Julie Riendeau that when Paquette’s home was searched in January police found what appeared to be silicon-based replica of a young boy’s penis.
Brochu pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and sexual interference involving an 8-year-old boy about 16 years ago. At the time of his arrest, Brochu was residing at the same address as André Faivre, 68, the alleged ringleader of the network.
Brochu and Paquette are scheduled to have a sentence hearing on Nov. 18.
The cases against the other 15 men arrested in Operation Malaise return to court on Wednesday.