Victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest give emotional impact statements

Bertrand Charest is seen on a court drawing during a bail hearing, on March 16, 2015 in St-Jerome, Que. The Crown is seeking a 12-year prison term for a former national ski coach who was convicted this year on sex-related charges involving nine of his young students.Prosecutor Caroline Lafleur says a dissuasive sentence is necessary in the case of Bertrand Charest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike McLaughlin

SAINT-JEROME, Que. - Sex-assault victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest delivered emotional impact statements Tuesday, 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.

The crimes took place when Charest was their coach.

A judge called Charest a sexual predator when he convicted him last June on charges involving nine of the 12 women who'd accused him of crimes dating back more than 20 years.

All but one of the victims and alleged victims was under the age of 18 at the time of the offences, with the youngest being 12.

Three victims appeared in person in court in Saint-Jerome on Tuesday, a fourth read her statement via a video hookup and others had their letters read out by the Crown.

Crown prosecutor Caroline Lafleur asked that Charest be given a dissuasive 12-year prison term.

"The consequences on the victims are numerous and it's a case in which there are many victims," Lafleur said.

Her recommendation followed the presentation of a report that indicated a lack of empathy and remorse on Charest's part.

"He is someone who seems to be in the same place as when he committed the offences," Lafleur said, calling that an "aggravating factor."

Defence lawyer Antonio Cabral called the 12-year suggestion "a bit high," although he acknowledged there is jurisprudence to warrant such a recommendation.

He is expected to give his recommendation next Tuesday.

Charest, who faces a maxium sentence of 14 years behind bars, is appealing his conviction on 37 sex-related charges, with Cabral alleging a lengthy list of legal errors made by the trial judge.

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

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 verdict was rendered that the ruling sent a message that abusing authority has no place in sports or in society in general.

(Cogeco Nouvelles, The Canadian Press)


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