Ex-national ski coach Bertrand Charest gets 12-year prison sentence

Coach was found guilty of 37 of the 57 sex-related charges he was facing

The 20 years that have passed since Bertrand Charest’s crimes cannot erase the pain he inflicted on his young victims, a judge said Friday as he sentenced the former national ski coach to a 12-year prison term.

In a scathing ruling, Judge Sylvain Lepine described Charest’s sexual assaults on the teenage girls he trained as “inexcusable and criminal,” especially given their young age and his position of authority over them.

He also highlighted the courage of the victims and alleged victims who testified, all but one of whom were under the age of 18 at the time of the offences.

“To denounce a theft or a fraud is certainly easier than denouncing a sexual assault,” Lepine told the packed courtroom in Saint-Jerome, north of Montreal.

“It’s an intimate act, targeting the body, the physique, and is also an infringement on the psychological health of the victims.”

READ: Sister of former ski coach Bertrand Charest takes stand at his sex assault trial

With time already served in detention since his arrest in 2015, Charest has seven years and 10 months left in the sentence.

In June, Lepine called Charest a sexual predator as he found him guilty of 37 of the 57 sex-related charges he was facing. The convictions involved nine of the 12 women who’d accused him of crimes dating back more than 20 years.

On Friday, the judge had more harsh words for the accused, who stood quietly with his hands clasped in front of him and did not visibly react when the sentence was read out.

Lepine said Charest still did not grasp the severity or the consequences of his crimes and has denied the need for therapy.

He stressed that the victims, the youngest being 12 years old, are still suffering from what he called “serious health consequences” as a result of the abuse that took place between 1991 and 1998.

“This behaviour is not acceptable in 2017, it wasn’t in 1998, just as it wasn’t in 1950 or any other era,” he said in his ruling.

“It is criminal in Quebec, in Europe and in every country in the world.”

READ: Second witness tells sex-assault trial of ex-ski coach about harassment

Charest’s lawyer, Antonio Cabral, said he will look at the sentence in detail before deciding whether to appeal, as he is doing for last June’s convictions.

“I am a bit surprised with that (with the length of the sentence),” said Cabral, who had recommended between four and six years. “Twelve years is a significant sentence.”

Crown prosecutor Marie-Nathalie Tremblay expressed satisfaction, however, as it corresponded exactly to what she and fellow prosecutor Caroline Lafleur had asked for.

“They (the victims) were happy with the outcome, with the sentence, with having been heard and with the judge delivering the message that (such behaviour) is not to be tolerated,” Tremblay told reporters.

She said four of the victims listened via videoconference to the sentence being read, while four others were in the courtroom.

The accused, who didn’t testify at his trial, was acquitted on 18 charges, while the court said it didn’t have jurisdiction over two other counts related to incidents that occurred abroad.

The 57 initial charges against Charest included sexual assault, sexual exploitation and one of sexual assault causing bodily harm.

Charest’s victims delivered emotional impact statements last month, with one telling the court he had robbed her of her childhood and acted like a predator.

Another cried as she recounted how she lives with “shame, guilt and disgust” because of the sex assaults.

Some of the offences took place both before and during Charest’s stint with Alpine Canada’s women’s development team between 1996 and 1998.

The national ski organization said in a statement after the June verdict was rendered that the ruling sent a message that abusing authority has no place in sports or in society in general.

Lepine, meanwhile, ripped into the organization Friday.

“Alpine Canada and its leaders failed miserably in their role as guardians and protectors of these young athletes,” he wrote.

“Their parents had entrusted them (Alpine Canada) with their safety. Alpine Canada chose rather to close its eyes, to not believe these young women and to hide the truth.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Kan Yon restaurant break-in caught on camera

Owner Kevin Kwong said the break-in will not stop him from doing business

Letter: With Greyhound cuts, cancer care still available for rural residents

Editor, In light of the Greyhound bus lines reducing service in British… Continue reading

Savage West rock at a hoedown for a cause in Hope

Owners of Broke Buckle Clothing Co. held the event to benefit the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Rolling Pin celebrates being crowned sweetest bakery in Western Canada

Fans of the bakery voted online and in person in the Dawn Foods contest this summer

A tiny shop with a big heart for the Hope hospital

The gift shop at the Fraser Canyon Hospital is bursting at the seams with new products

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

VIDEO: Giants head into holidays with a win at home

Vancouver G-Men don’t play next until Dec. 28, after 2-1 victory over Prince George Sunday.

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

VIDEO: Giants fall to Royals 4-2 in Victoria Saturday night

Second loss in as many days for G-Men, who are back home in Langley today to take on the Cougars.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

Most Read