MONTREAL — Ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest is appealing his conviction on 37 sex-related charges, with documents filed Tuesday seeking an acquittal or a new trial.
A lawyer for the former high-performance trainer has gone to the Quebec Court of Appeal, alleging a lengthy list of legal errors made by the trial judge.
Quebec court Judge Sylvain Lepine called Charest a sexual predator when he convicted him last month on charges involving nine of the 12 women who’d accused him of crimes dating back more than 20 years.
The judge said Charest’s actions constituted an unequivocal abuse of trust and power and said the victims, young aspiring skiers under Charest’s guidance, were all credible and reliable.
In his appeal, defence lawyer Antonio Cabral took issue with the description of Charest as a “veritable predator.”
“No evidence, no complainant, no expert came to establish this fact (that he was a predator) during the trial that took place before him,” he wrote.
Cabral has raised nearly 20 legal issues in the appeal, including the credibility Lepine assigned to the victims.
“In effect, there were numerous contradictions raised in cross-examination on essential elements of the infractions,” Cabral wrote, noting they were outlined in the defence’s 162-page final arguments.
The 57 initial charges against Charest included sexual assault, sexual exploitation and one of sexual assault causing bodily harm. All but one was under the age of 18 at the time of the offences, with the youngest victim being 12.
Charest, who didn’t testify at his trial, was acquitted on 18 of the charges, while the court said it didn’t have jurisdiction over two other counts related to incidents that occurred abroad.
Some of the victims testified they had sexual relationships with Charest. Others said he touched them inappropriately.
Some also said they felt they were in love with Charest at the time but eventually came to believe they had been manipulated.
He was described as controlling and manipulative toward the athletes whose careers he managed.
One former pupil testified she had to have an abortion when she was about 15 after getting pregnant following unprotected sex with Charest.
The encounters continued afterward, with Charest purchasing contraceptives for her and getting a prescription from his own father.
She testified she was young and in love with her coach and that Charest advised her to keep their relationship quiet because he would go to prison if it became known.
Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions acknowledged Tuesday an appeal had been filed, but declined further comment.