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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brian McFadden, vice-president of the Vancouver Island Military Museum, shows elements of a new exhibit there that examines some of the horrors and hardships for women and children in prison camps during First and Second World Wars. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Women in prison camps persevered

Letter writer shares her mother’s recollections of prison camp in Java during Second World War

A light display on Northumberland Avenue was recognized as one of the best in the city last year. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce photo)
Nanaimo’s Christmas light-up event renamed Illuminight

Judging will take place the evening of Dec. 13

News Bulletin file photo
Salvation Army asks for volunteers to help serve up Christmas dinners

Charity looking for help with preparing, packaging, serving and delivering meals

Potential locations of speed humps and curbs on Lost Lake Road. (City of Nanaimo image)
City of Nanaimo planning traffic-calming project on Lost Lake Road

Seventy-five per cent of respondents support measures to reduce speed on the road

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board is set to vote on a recommendation that would see Franklyn Street gym demolition. Pictured here, Nanaimo Fire Rescue staff on scene after a gym fire in October 2018. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustees to decide Franklyn Street gym’s fate

SD68 committee recommends demolishing gym, damaged by fire in October 2018

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

A map of Nanaimo displays the boundaries of the proposed new downtown business improvement area. (City of Nanaimo image)
Nanaimo city councillors recommending downtown improvement area be re-established

Finance and audit committee recommends council direct staff to start ‘petition-against’ process

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Nanaimo Fire Rescue Chief Karen Fry will become the next fire chief of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services in the new year. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s fire chief hired to become Vancouver’s fire chief

Karen Fry calls the move a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity

James Corden on the Late Late Show talking about BC Ferries on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Screenshot)
‘You’ll see it when you see it’: BC Ferries mask graphic gains James Corden’s attention

Turns out, James Corden fans were just as quick as B.C. social media users to pick up on the dual imagery

Most Read