Plateau skateboarder bar TRH-Bar is at the centre of a controversy after organizing a fundraising party for one of its former bouncers, who was convicted of sexual assault.
According to Le Journal de Montréal, who broke the story, Steve Bouchard was convicted of three counts each of sexual assault and armed assault for assaults against Martine Beaudet-Aune (who he was dating) in 2014 and 2015.
Bouchard was sentenced to 18 months in prison in early 2017, and his sister proposed the party to TRH-Bar (pronounced “Trash Bar” — yes, really). It was named “Free Steve” and set for March 6, and ostensibly aimed to raise money to help the former employee “reintegrate” into society after his sentence. Bouchard appears to be still in prison, although the Journal reports that he requested early release in October, which was denied.
One of TRH-Bar’s owners, Fred Vitu, told the Journal that he didn’t think the event was inappropriate, saying that Bouchard had paid his debt to society.
But speaking to the newspaper, Beaudet-Aune slammed the party, saying that it felt like they were laughing in her face, and that it showed a lack of respect towards sexual assault victims. She said that she has nothing against rehabilitation, but added that Bouchard had not shown remorse for his actions.
CJAD reports that the bar took down its Facebook page after heavy criticism, before reactivating it to do some damage control. The bar posted an apologetic message noting that the bar would donate double the proceeds of the party to an organization providing support to sexual assault victims, claiming that it rejects all forms of harassment and sexual assault.
It would appear that many people haven’t accepted that apology, as the bar has received over 1,000 one-star reviews tearing into the bar’s actions — including comments from as far away as France.