The heads of Canada’s prison service, as well as its parole board, were forced to answer to members of parliament in Ottawa Tuesday about the death of 22-year-old Marylène Levesque.
The case has raised numerous questions about the parole board’s decision to release convicted killer Eustachio Gallese on day parole, as well as the lack of safety regulations when it comes to prostitution laws.
This comes in response to the revelation that part of the parole strategy suggested by his officer allowed him to meet women to respond to his “sexual needs.”
“The parole board members rejected this part of the plan categorically. I want to be very clear about this,” said Jennifer Oades, chairperson of the Parole Board of Canada. “They ordered the offender and the parole officer to stop this activity.”
She adds Gallese was required to declare all relationships with women, whether sexual in nature or not.
“Public safety is the most important consideration that underlies everything we do,” added Anne Kelly, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). “Incarceration is only a temporary solution as the mass majority of offenders will be released into the community and become our neighbours.”
Disappointed by the women’s opening speeches, Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus asked the two leaders if they really thought their departments performed perfectly and without fault, pointing specifically at Levesque’s death.
“While I do not want to undermine in anyway the seriousness of what happened here, it is important to note that it is incredibly rare,” said Kelly.
Several MPs pointed out that Gallese has a history of violence against women, fuelled by jealousy and a need for control.
“How can you explain, in his release plan, the fact that he was allowed to meet women, not just for emotional relationships, but for sexual relationships?” asked Kristina Michaud, MP with the Bloc Québécois.
In response, Kelly simply insisted the correctional board did not condone allowing offenders to seek out sexual relationships as part of their release plans.
In addition, Oades refuted claims, when asked by Conservative MP Marc Dalton, that the incident has destroyed the credibility of the parole board and the CSC.
“I think we’re all disappointed, we’re all shocked; I would say we’re all devastated by what has happened,” she said. “But, I also think that our success rate is that 99.9 per cent of those on day parole do not reoffend violently.”
KILLED IN A HOTEL ROOM
Marylène Levesque was murdered last January in a Quebec City hotel room during a sexual encounter with Gallese, who was on day parole.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Levesque’s death, acknowledging that he stabbed her 30 times because he was jealous and feared rejection. He will serve 25 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
In 2006, the 51-year-old was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 15 years after he killed his partner, Chantale Deschênes, by beating her with a hammer and stabbing her. He was also previously convicted of assaulting another partner.
Gallese was originally classified as a high-risk offender, before being re-evaluated as a moderate risk. By 2016, he was allowed out on supervised outings and was released to a halfway house last March.
Gallese first met Levesque at a massage parlour, where he had been banned for being aggressive. He admitted he developed a “certain attachment” to her, but felt threatened after she became distant.
Following her murder, the federal government announced that it would conduct a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says he hopes to “determine whether or not correct protocols were followed in this case, and shine a light on which systemic changes could help ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.”