Lawyer wants light sentence for beatings with heavy stick
Written by CBC News Online staff
October 26, 2002

For audio of broadcast:

CHARLOTTETOWN - A former nun convicted of abusing children in her care says she'll live with the consequences. But Lucille Poulin's lawyer will ask for a light sentence.

Poulin, 78, was convicted in P.E.I. Supreme Court on Friday on all five counts of assaulting children.

Lucille Poulin

The leader of a religious commune near Summerside, P.E.I., Poulin said she was told by God she could beat the children to punish them and to drive the devil out of them.

Justice David Jenkins told her she was wrong.

Jenkins said Poulin's use of a heavy wooden stick went beyond permissible spanking and constituted abuse.

"She hit one or more of the children with the rod frequently. On a routine basis, she applied too much force and often too many strikes," he told the packed Charlottetown courtroom while reading his decision.

Jenkins said he believed the children's version of events more than Poulin's.

Considered a prophet by a small group of followers still living at the commune, Poulin said nothing in the court, or to reporters outside afterward.

It was a marked contrast to the way she had earlier entered the court for the ruling. She had been singing as she walked.

Her lawyer, Zia Chisti, said she told him she accepted the verdict as the will of God, and planned to live with the results.

"She should be given a lenient sentence," Chisti said, "because of her age and because she has led a very clean life."

Crown attorney Darrell Coombs said he'll be asking for time in jail when sentencing arguments are heard on Nov. 7.

Poulin could face a maximum of five years behind bars.

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