Quebec’s ombudsman has criticized the way a social worker handled the case of the Quebec mosque shooter after he allegedly told her in confidence he regretted not having murdered more people, according to a report obtained by The Canadian Press.
Guylaine Cayouette was justified in going to police, but took sloppy and incomplete notes about her encounters with Alexandre Bissonnette, wrote Geneviève Lauzon, with the Quebec ombudsman’s office, in her report dated November, 2018.
The report also said Ms. Cayouette didn’t follow protocol after Mr. Bissonnette told her he wished more Muslims died in his shooting rampage.
Mr. Bissonnette shot six men dead in a Quebec City mosque in January, 2017. He pleaded guilty in March, 2018, to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder.
Ms. Cayouette, who works for an organization in Quebec City that offers mental-health services to inmates, began meeting with Mr. Bissonnette in jail in February, 2017.
A report she authored was entered as evidence during the killer’s sentencing arguments. Ms. Cayouette recounted how Mr. Bissonnette told her on Sept. 20, 2017: “I regret not having killed more people. … The victims are in the sky and I’m living in hell.”
Mr. Bissonnette’s parents lodged a complaint in September, 2018, with the ombudsman over Ms. Cayouette’s interventions with their son. They claimed Ms. Cayouette told Mr. Bissonnette she “had seen everything in her career and that he could trust her.”
Mr. Bissonnette’s parents argued Ms. Cayouette shouldn’t have gone to the police with the information or should have advised Mr. Bissonnette that she had the legal right to inform authorities about anything incriminating that he told her in confidence.
In Ms. Lauzon’s report, she stated that Ms. Cayouette “could, according to the law, break confidentiality to reveal information given to her by your son.” Ms. Cayouette believed she had “carte blanche” to report anything Mr. Bissonnette told her to police, because he had allowed her to say what she wanted, according to Ms. Lauzon.
The report stated, however, that Ms. Cayouette’s official casebook on Mr. Bissonnette did not include any notes about her Sept. 20, 2017, session with the shooter, nor did it include information about her meeting the day after with two provincial police investigators.
Ms. Lauzon added that Ms. Cayouette went straight to officials at the detention centre to reveal what Mr. Bissonnette had told her, when the proper protocol indicated she should have first informed her superiors at the community organization.
Benoit Cote, director of the community group that employs Cayouette, said Friday that his employee feels she did the right thing.
“She feels good with her decision to have informed authorities about his comments,” Cote said in an interview. “She felt it was her duty.”
Ms. Lauzon’s report recommended Mr. Cote’s employees provide inmates with clear, written instructions indicating health workers have the legal right to inform authorities about incriminating information given to them during therapy sessions.
She also recommended Ms. Cayouette follow the proper protocol in the future and to ensure her casebooks detailing her work with inmates be kept up-to-date and complete.
Mr. Cote said his organization has fulfilled all the recommendations and has gone further. “We will give training to all of our employees on matters involving confidentiality,” he said.
Mr. Bissonnette’s father, Raymond Bissonnette, declined to comment on the ombudsman’s report.