A Montreal North resident who was acquitted four months ago in a complicated trial on pimping charges was sentenced Friday at the Montreal courthouse to a five-moth prison term for having forcibly confined the same woman he was alleged to have controlled for months.
Denis Désiré, 46, had been responsible for security at École secondaire Calixa-Lavallée in Montreal North for a decade before he was arrested in 2018 following an investigation by the Équipe integrée de lutte contre le proxénetisme (EILP). The squad groups together investigators from several police forces in Quebec, including the Montreal police.
Désiré also co-founded, in 2006, a community group that helped young adults in Montreal North. Through the organization, he came to be known as “D-Nice” among the people he helped. So his arrest came as a shock to those who knew Désiré well. But a young woman alleged he exercised control over her while she worked as a stripper. While testifying at his trial last year, the woman said Désiré convinced her to also work as a prostitute while she stripped in cities across Canada, including Bathurst, Ottawa and Calgary.
On June 29, Quebec Court Judge Pierre Labelle acquitted Désiré on all seven of the pimp-related charges he faced in the trial. Labelle said that while the police investigation proved Désiré exercised control over the woman it did not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, what type of activity it was.
Labelle was also presented with contradictory evidence, including how the woman testified that she only began working as a prostitute after she turned 18 and after she met Désiré. She had no response, during the trial, when she was shown a video of a statement she gave to police, when she was a minor, and claimed to have worked as a prostitute when she was 16.
As part of the same trial, Labelle found Désiré guilty of having assaulted and forcibly confined the same woman in March 2018. Those two charges were filed against Désiré a month before the pimping charges were brought against him.
Prosecutor Pascal Dostaler told the Montreal Gazette that the five-month prison term received on Friday will be followed by a period of two years of probation. During his probation Désiré will not be allowed to communicate with the victim or anyone who works in the sex industry.
On April 28, 2018, Désiré was charged with procuring, advertising and benefiting from sexual services, assault, extortion and uttering threats. The charges involved a series of events that allegedly began in 2014. As part of the investigation, photos of nude women, or nearly nude women, with the words “El Presidente” and “D-Nice” tattooed on their bodies were found on his phone. Both were believed to be aliases used by Désiré and the woman alleged the tattoos were a type of branding.
The woman, whose name cannot be published due to a publication ban, also alleged that Désiré once tried to strangle her, in March 2018, with a laptop charger because she had damaged his car in an accident.
The woman testified that she sent Désiré $17,000 while she worked for him in Alberta. But, when Désiré testified in his own defence last year, he denied the money he received involved prostitution. For example, he said, part of the $17,000 was to cover the damage the woman had done to his car.