Final alleged victim testifies at former ski coach's sex assault trial

By The Canadian Press
March 17, 2017 - 1:00pm

SAINT-JEROME, Que. — A woman testified Friday at Bertrand Charest's sex-assault trial that the former ski coach harassed her on a daily basis when she was a teenager.

The alleged victim testified by videoconference and said Charest would touch her breasts regularly, often in front of other skiers.

"It was constant harassment," said the witness, who was the last of Charest's 12 alleged victims to take the stand.

"Having to refuse his advances every day, it stressed me, it made me crazy."

Charest, now 51, is on trial on 57 charges, including sexual assault and breach of trust, in relation to 12 alleged victims between the ages of 12 and 19.

The allegations date back to the 1990s, a few years before and during the time he worked for Alpine Canada's women's development team between 1996 and 1998.

Friday's witness said that on one occasion when she was 17, Charest began kissing her and touching her breasts as he gave her a massage.

She said he also invited her to his room on a nightly basis whenever they were staying in the same place.

"I was afraid he'd do something in the night," said the woman, who testified to feeling vulnerable to the advances because Charest helped to finance her ski career.

The woman was the last of 22 witnesses called by the Crown since the trial began just over two weeks ago in Saint-Jerome, north of Montreal.

Several of the witnesses testified to having had sexual relationships with Charest and said he was controlling and manipulative toward the athletes whose careers he managed.

The defence will begin calling witnesses on Monday.

One of Charest's lawyers repeated on Friday that no decision had yet been made as to whether Charest will take the stand.

Jacky-Eric Salvant said they could call other former skiers or people who were close to Charest.

"We have a list of witnesses," he said outside the courtroom. "We'll see which ones are the best for our strategy."

Salvant expressed confidence they would be able to find weaknesses in the Crown's case.

"The evidence is good (but) there are still holes," he said. "We've seen the holes and we'll see what we can exploit through that."

Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press

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