Montreal bar gets slammed online for holding party for man convicted of sexual assault
A Montreal woman is upset with the management of a bar on St. Laurent Blvd. for organizing a fundraising party for the man who was sent to jail for sexually assaulting her.
Steve Bouchard, a former bouncer at TRH-Bar (pronounced Trash Bar) was handed an 18-month jail sentence in March 2017 after being convicted of three counts of sexual assault and three other counts of armed assault. His victim, Martine Beaudet-Aune, was dating him when the assaults happened in 2014 and 2015.
On March 6, the bar in question held a "Free Steve" event to raise funds for Bouchard's "reinsertion" into society — something Beaudet-Aune told the Journal de Montréal is nothing short of the bar laughing in her face.
The woman accused the bar of promoting rape culture and mistreatment of women, telling the paper it was especially inappropriate in the #MeToo era.
Many online commenters seemed to agree, after the Journal story broke on Thursday morning. A post on the bar's Facebook page on March 5 — which has since been removed — referred to a "fundraising party for the return of our dear Steve."
"You deserve to be boycotted by all women," one comment read.
"The should have done the opposite and done [the fundraiser] for his victim. What a crappy bar!" another poster wrote.
"What a shame!!!!!!!!!!!" another wrote. "I will cross my fingers hard for you being forced to close your doors!"
The comments on the bar's Facebook page were up for several hours before the entire page was taken down late Thursday morning.
A few hours later, the page was put back up — with a statement.
"First of all, we recognize that we made a mistake, and from the bottom of our hearts, we want to apologize to all victims of sexual assault," the Facebook post reads. "The TRH-Bar and its owners denounce all forms of harassment and sexual assault. The culture put forth by our employees and our clientele has always been based on respect. We have always been recognized as such, and we want to continue to be.
The statement also says the bar's management also plans to take some lessons from the online reaction, and plans to donate money to a group working with sexual assault victims.
"In no instance did we ever want to promote rape culture."
The bar's co-owner, Fred Vitu, had earlier told the Journal de Montréal that he didn't believe the party was inappropriate, saying Bouchard has paid his debt to society and that it was a "positive action" to assist Bouchard after his release. He also says it wasn't his intention to make light of what happened to Beaudet-Aune.
Beaudet-Aune said she has nothing against his rehabilitation, but is upset that Bouchard isn't showing any remorse for what he did.