May 25, 2005
"Daredevil dads plead not guilty"
Weekend stunts; Clients don't think they did anything wrong, lawyer says
By ALLISON HANES - firstname.lastname@example.org
Two daredevil dads who donned superhero costumes over the weekend and
scaled a Montreal monument to raise awareness about divorced fathers'
rights appeared in court yesterday.
Benoit Leroux, 48, and Gilles Dumas, 52, were arraigned yesterday on
three charges each of conspiracy, interfering with the use of the
Jacques Cartier Bridge and obstructing police from conducting their
The pair, both members of the group Fathers4Justice, held up traffic on
the link between Montreal and the South Shore for hours Monday when
Leroux climbed the iron scaffolding of the bridge to unfurl a banner
and Dumas joined him to capture the event on tape.
Leroux was released yesterday afternoon after agreeing to keep the
peace and notify the court of any address changes. He returns to court
Dumas remained detained after he refused to agree to a bail condition
to not communicate with Leroux. He will have a bail hearing this
Marc-B. Bilodeau, a lawyer for both men, entered pleas of not guilty on
He said his clients don't believe they were doing anything wrong by
climbing onto the bridge.
"Strangely, Mr. Leroux doesn't think he committed a crime. He thinks of
himself as an activist," Bilodeau explained.
"What he did he did in hopes that it would help him bring attention to
Fathers4Justice is a divorced dads' rights group based in Britain. The
group attempts to raise awareness about how poorly the courts treat
fathers in custody disputes and push for the adoption of laws that
allow for equal and not just "shared access of their children."
Fathers4Justice, according to a recent article in the New York Times
Magazine, is in the process of exporting its tactics to North America,
where it hopes to reform the image of frustrated fathers, portraying
them as slightly goofy superheroes instead of loud, angry men.
Daniel Bonin, who dressed up as Spider-Man on Saturday and climbed the
cross on Mount Royal, said the group has been active in Quebec since
November, has 40 members and is growing.
He said in recent weeks they have strung giant banners across highways
and released chirping crickets into Quebec courthouses. But this is the
first time they've won widespread attention.
Members of Fathers4Justice believe in non-violent civil disobedience,
Bonin said, and are not afraid to go to jail.
"Compared to having my child stolen from me," Bonin said, "compared to
what the police and the justice system have already done to me over the
last 12 years, anything they do to me now is nothing."
C The Gazette (Montreal) 2005