Investigator Caroline Tremblay of the Saguenay Police Department testified Wednesday at the Chicoutimi courthouse in the trial of the guard accused of committing aggravated assault on a 23-month-old toddler, February 20, 2017, in Saguenay.
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The policewoman explained to the court that three days after the events, Frenette had refused to give a statement to the police, which was allowed to her because of her right to remain silent.
The next day, February 24, the guard finally agreed to deliver her filmed version, but from her residence instead of at the police station.
Caroline Tremblay recounted that Stéphanie Frenette was coordinated, detailed, thoughtful and at ease when answering questions on the days preceding that of February 20. She had notes in front of her to remember the events.
But when the time came to discuss the child’s behavior, Frenette reportedly showed signs of nervousness.
Then when the SQ investigator asking the questions approached the day of February 20, the guard changed her behavior, the policewoman said.
“Stéphanie Frenette backed up in her chair. She was biting her nails. She put her note sheets on her legs so they couldn’t be seen. She pressed her ears. She then speaks more quietly. She’s looking for what she has to say. She takes off her wedding ring. She is much less comfortable, ”the policewoman testified.
Caroline Tremblay explained to the judge that the babysitter was leaning over her chair and looking down at her notes. The policewoman had the impression that Stéphanie Frenette believed that she did not see her lowering her eyes.
The babysitter would have regained her ease when, during the storyline of February 20, the questions were returned at the time of the call to the toddler’s father. Frenette then informed the father that her son was not doing well. The policewoman then noticed that the guard put her elbows back on the table and was comfortable again.
This interrogation began at 1:40 p.m. and the last rereading of the 35 pages of his statement written by the SQ investigator ended at 11:30 p.m., a real marathon.
The investigator and the guard clapped each other’s hands, a high five explained Caroline Tremblay, after having completed the signed writing of this deposition, late at the end of the evening, on February 24, 2017.
Testimony of the accused’s housekeeper
Another witness recounted troubling facts, but the defense raised contradictions in his testimony.
The cleaning lady Johanne Gaudreault was in the house of the accused who operated her daycare in the basement on February 20, 2017. It is the day targeted by the accusation.
At around 10 a.m. that morning, while she was on the ground floor, she heard Stéphanie Frenette screaming very loudly at a child. “Are you going to sit down? Are you going to understand? ” related Mme Gaudreault, who does not know which child the instructions were addressed to. She didn’t go to the basement either.
At around 11:15 am, while she was going down to the basement to put the vacuum cleaner away, Johanne Gaudreault saw a young boy in a disturbing state. “He was sitting on his buttocks with his legs stretched out. Arms stretched out on either side of him. His eyes were wide open, full of water. Tears on her cheeks. He didn’t wipe his tears away. No sound was coming out of his mouth. His head “shakes” him all the time from left to right. “
The cleaning lady says the child was about 2 years old. “I thought he wasn’t normal,” she said in court. Stéphanie Frenette would have told him that he was like that and that he was in punishment.
Johanne Gaudreault added that she tried to get the child’s attention, but without success. “He was’nt here. Poor little boy. He was really in pain ”. She did not dare to approach the baby, as she considered that it was the babysitter’s job.
Stéphanie Frenette would then have settled the payments and receipts to the cleaning lady while also talking about her schedule. The whole thing lasted between 15 and 20 minutes. “She did not take care of it,” added the witness, who had worked for Stéphanie Frenette for nine months.
Johanne Gaudreault left the scene at 11:36 a.m. The child was still in the same position, she said.
In cross-examination, the accused’s lawyer raised contradictions between this version at trial and that provided to the police, three days after the facts.
To the investigators, Johanne Gaudreault had not mentioned having heard Stéphanie Frenette screaming loudly on two occasions.
Then, his description of the exchanges with the guard around 11:15 am is not the same between the trial and the police interrogation.
Johanne Gaudreault had also told the police that everything was normal when she left the scene, which contrasts with her version told before the judge.
She added that Stéphanie Frenette had always been a good babysitter.