'Miss Congeniality' charged in Vancouver riot
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011 5:48PM PST
A pageant contestant crowned "Miss Congeniality" last year is among 25 people facing criminal charges connected to Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot.
Twenty-year-old Sophie Carmelle Laboissonniere of Richmond is charged with participating in a riot and break and enter for allegedly joining the crowd of looters who rushed into London Drugs during the madness of June 15.
Laboissonniere was awarded the titles of Miss Congeniality and Royalty at last year's Miss Coastal Vancouver pageant. She also competed in Miss BC 2010 and had hoped to make a showing at Miss World Canada 2011 before she was sidelined when her mother fell ill.
Katherine Grefner from Miss World Canada told CTV News that Laboissonniere is a "vivacious" young woman who really stood out during auditions.
"She expressed a keen interest in helping out with children," Grefner said. "She's just an all-round good kid."
Grefner said that she's shocked to hear of the charges against the beauty queen, but her mother's illness might have contributed to Laboissonniere's alleged actions.
"I do think that when people go through hard times and they're amongst maybe a mob mentality, their sense of judgment isn't the best that it could be at the specific time, but it doesn't necessarily make them a bad person," Grefner said.
In her profile for the blogging service blogspot.com, Laboissonniere wrote: "I am a young women aspiring to become an interior designer. I love participating in pageants. For me it's a great way of expressing myself on stage and letting people see me exude my confidence by being myself."
She and her family did not respond to requests for comment.
Laboissonniere is just one of those accused in the riot whose otherwise squeaky clean image contrasts sharply with the "criminals, anarchists and thugs" that Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu originally blamed for the chaos after the Canucks' Game 7 loss.
She joins a list that includes people like Nathan Kotylak, a water polo star from Maple Ridge, who turned himself in to police after pictures surfaced of him holding a flaming piece of cloth to the gas tank of a police squad car. He has not yet been charged.
There's also 19-year-old Dylan Long, who is charged with mischief, break and enter and participating in a riot. He's a lacrosse player who used to be a member of the New Westminster Salmon Bellies, and his former coach described him as a polite, hard-working young man in an interview with CTV News.
The 25 who have been charged face counts including arson, assault, mischief, break and enter and participating in a riot.
Police have recommended a total of 163 charges against 60 suspects so far, and Crown prosecutors are still reviewing the recommendations for 35 of those people.
Investigators have said that as many as 700 people could ultimately face charges, and that the investigation could take up to two years to complete.