May 25, 2005


"Daredevil dads plead not guilty"

Weekend stunts; Clients don't think they did anything wrong, lawyer says





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

July 13.


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

their behalf.


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

his cause."


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