Montreal

Quebec Crown admits errors in prosecuting ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest's case

In recently-file court documents, Quebec's Crown attorney conceded that it's possible the judge should not have found Bertrand Charest guilty of 10 out of 37 charges.

Bertrand Charest, 54, was found guilty of sex crimes committed against young female athletes

Bertrand Charest was convicted in June 2017 of sexually abusing athletes between 1991 and 1998 when he was Canada's national ski coach. (Radio-Canada)

In recently-file court documents, Quebec's Crown attorney conceded that it's possible the judge should not have found Bertrand Charest guilty of 10 out of 37 charges.

The former ski coach was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to a 12-year prison term in December 2017 for committing crimes of a sexual nature committed against young female athletes.

The documents say the Crown acknowledges there was insufficient evidence for 10 charges, and that they cannot prove some of the victims were minors in the case of some sexual exploitation charges.

That criminal offence did not exist when the victim was between 14 and 18 years old, the Crown said in its appeal brief.

Charest, 54, has appealed the verdict and his sentence.

In her appeal brief, the Crown responded to Charest's arguments that he ought to be acquitted.

In June 2017,  Quebec Court Judge Sylvain Lépine found him guilty of the charges, and subsequently sentenced him to 12 years in prison, calling his crimes "inexcusable" and "criminal."

Possible reduced sentence

In his written submission, Crown Attorney Alexis Marcotte Bélanger requested the guilty charges be upheld for 27 of the 37 charges against Chartest.

Bélanger argued that evidence shows Charest had the capacity to influence the behaviour of the young women and that he used his influence to obtain sexual favours.

But, on the other hand, Bélanger said 10 of the counts should be dropped, on the principle that Charest cannot be found guilty of multiple charges for the same event.

He also said there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Charest "invited, engaged or incited the complainants to touch him."

Some additional charges of sexual exploitation could be dropped because there is a possibility the complainants were adults at the time of the incident.

If some of the charges are dropped or successfully appealed, the judge could review the length of the sentence.

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