Bertrand Charest is seen on a court drawing during a bail hearing in St-Jerome, Que., on March 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike McLaughlin

Ski coach Bertrand Charest’s sentence for sexual abuse reduced

Appeal court judge: ‘His narcissistic personality is still present’

Former national ski coach Bertrand Charest has seen his sentence for sexually abusing young female skiers under his care reduced by 21 months on appeal.

Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that Charest’s 12-year sentence for sex-related offences on young skiers in the 1990s would be cut to 10 years and three months, setting aside 21 of the 37 counts on which he was initially found guilty.

Charest was convicted in June 2017, but he appealed both the verdict and the sentence handed down by Quebec court Judge Sylvain Lepine.

The Court of Appeal acquitted Charest on nine of the charges, two charges were stayed and one was set aside for lack of jurisdiction because the alleged crime occurred in another country. A conditional suspension was ordered on nine other counts.

His guilt was maintained on 16 other counts, and the Court of Appeal had harsh words for the former coach.

“There has been no dramatic change in the appellant (Charest) since the offences, but on the contrary, according to the evidence filed during the sentencing hearing, he continues to trivialize his conduct, to denigrate the plaintiffs and even wants to make some of them bear the responsibility for his actions,” Justice Francois Doyon wrote on behalf of the panel of three judges.

“His narcissistic personality is still present.”

Charest had complete sexual relations with some of the teenage victims while he was in a position of authority over them. One of them became pregnant, and Charest took her to have an abortion.

READ MORE: B.C. Olympic skier sues Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Genevieve Simard, one of Charest’s victims who last year went to court to have a publication ban lifted so she could be identified, said Thursday she is satisfied with the ruling.

“I can at last bring an end to this chapter of my life, which has been long and very trying for me, my family and those close to me, and I think I can speak for the other girls as well,” Simard said in a written statement.

She praised the courage of the athletes for coming forward and expressed the hope that the sentence given Charest would influence future cases.

“The reduction of the sentence is not at all what I retain,” she said. “What I retain is the 10 years and three months, a significant sentence that will have a major impact on future sexual assault cases in the country.”

After taking into consideration his pre-trial detention, Charest will have four years and nine months left to serve, according to the appeal decision.

Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

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