Sis­ter of ten­nis star tes­ti­fies in online harassment case

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - NATIONAL NEWS - SID­HARTHA BAN­ER­JEE

MON­TREAL — Char­lotte Bouchard says her de­ci­sion to pur­sue crim­i­nal charges against a Mon­treal man ac­cused of ha­rass­ing her will have been worth it if it helps just one vic­tim of online stalk­ing.

The 23-year-old younger sis­ter of Cana­dian ten­nis star Eu­ge­nie Bouchard made the com­ments af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing Thursday at the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing of 40-yearold Danny Arse­nault.

He is charged with crim­i­nal harassment and send­ing ha­rass­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions over a three-year span. Ac­cord­ing to charges filed last year, the al­leged harassment lasted be­tween Septem­ber 2014 and De­cem­ber 2017. Arse­nault was ar­rested last Fe­bru­ary.

“I don’t have any com­ments on the case, but I will say I’m very happy that I’ve gone through with this,” Bouchard said out­side the court­room, flanked by her fa­ther.

“Hope­fully this will also en­cour­age any­body to speak out who is go­ing through this as well .... If this can even help one per­son, then I’m happy with that.”

The hear­ing opened with Bouchard an­swer­ing ques­tions from pros­e­cu­tor Jean-Christofe Ar­deneus, but her tes­ti­mony is cov­ered by a pub­li­ca­tion ban.

She was the only wit­ness to tes­tify Thursday. The case re­sumes Feb. 21, when the Crown will out­line its plan to present other witnesses. The pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing serves to de­ter­mine whether the ev­i­dence is suf­fi­cient to send Arse­nault to trial.

Arse­nault told the judge be­fore the hear­ing that he was aware of the ev­i­dence against him. “In my opin­ion, there is noth­ing ag­gres­sive or of­fen­sive in what hap­pened,” he said.

Af­ter be­ing in­formed by Que­bec court Judge Serge Delisle of his rights, Arse­nault asked for a pub­li­ca­tion ban, which is au­to­matic at a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing if re­quested by the de­fence.

He has cho­sen to rep­re­sent him­self, but a lawyer was present to cross-ex­am­ine Bouchard on his be­half if nec­es­sary. In the end, he de­clined to chal­lenge any of Bouchard’s tes­ti­mony.

Bouchard’s fa­ther Michel drew at­ten­tion to the case in a tweet last week af­ter Cana­dian ju­nior hockey player Maxime Com­tois was sub­jected to online abuse.

The Ana­heim Ducks prospect faced a bar­rage of hate­ful mes­sages on so­cial me­dia af­ter miss­ing a penalty shot in a cru­cial game. Com­tois had to shut down com­ment­ing on his In­sta­gram page, and on Wednesday he en­cour­aged other vic­tims of cy­ber bul­ly­ing to speak out.

Bouchard, who this week talked to me­dia about her ex­pe­ri­ence, had a clear mes­sage for those en­gag­ing in abu­sive be­hav­iour online: “To stop and to re­al­ize that it af­fects peo­ple, and it’s an in­va­sion of your pri­vacy, and it’s not OK.”


Char­lotte Bouchard, sis­ter of ten­nis player Eu­ge­nie Bouchard, walks to the court­room with her fa­ther Michel in a case of crim­i­nal harassment to­wards her by Danny Arse­nault in Mon­treal on Thursday.

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