Ski director who hired Charest continued business relationship after coach fired
SAINT-JEROME, Que. — A main defence witness at Bertrand Charest’s sex assault trial admitted during cross-examination Tuesday that his links to the accused were deeper than he had let on during his earlier testimony.
Regis Nivoix used to be director of a regional ski association that hired Charest during the 1992-93 ski season to coach an elite group of young athletes.
Nivoix said Charest was structured, disciplined, and had a vision to bring Quebec skiers to the national and international stage.
“He delivered the goods,” Nivoix said about Charest, who 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 during the ’90s.
They claim Charest abused them when he was their coach, before and during his stint with Alpine Canada’s women’s development team between 1996 and ’98.
Nivoix testified he never received complaints or heard rumours about sex allegations against the former coach before 1998.
He said when Charest was fired from Alpine Canada in 1998, he never knew the full extent of what was alleged against him.
“All we had to go on were rumours,” Nivoix testified.
He added he has “no personal links” to Charest and that their relationship was “strictly professional.”
“I never ate with him, never had a beer with him, never went to his house,” Nivoix told the court.
During his testimony on behalf of the defence, Nivoix glossed over his role as a lawyer for Charest after the accused was fired in 1998.
Nivoix said he had met Charest in person to go over documents between the year 2000 and Charest’s arrest in 2015 and that he had seen the former coach in passing on a few occasions.
He also testified he went to see Charest in jail “about five or six times” to look at documents unrelated to the arrest.
During cross-examination, Crown attorney Caroline Lafleur made Nivoix delve further into his business relationship with Charest.
Nivoix said he received two legal mandates to represent Charest’s glass company between 2000 and 2016.
“They were just two mandates,” Nivoix said. I wasn’t being paid on a retainer.”
Nivoix said he met Charest about four times in person between 2000 and his arrest 15 years later.
Jail records Lafleur showed the court indicated he also visited Charest 10 times in jail between July 2015 and February 2016.
In his earlier testimony, Nivoix said his regional ski association hired Charest in the early 90s to help Quebec regain its skiing pride.
Quebec had lost the headquarters of the country’s national ski association and the provincial ski industry wanted to show off its athletes on the national and international stage.
“(Charest) was the only one during the (job) interviews who told us how to get there,” he said. “We wanted to be known in Canada.”
Nivoix’s own daughter lived for two years at a ski school run by Charest in Mont-Tremblant, Que., in the mid-’90s.
He said he often visited the school, which was set up in a large home and housed roughly 10 students at the time.
“The ambience was warm,” he said. “My daughter never mentioned anything was going on.”
One of the students at that school testified earlier in the trial that Charest had pulled her out of the home on several occasions and brought her to his house for sex.
Lafleur asked Nivoix what his daughter thought of him testifying on behalf of the defence.
“She told me she preferred I didn’t,” he said.
The defence will present its third witness Wednesday morning.
Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
This news article is kindly supported by the Voice of English-speaking Québec 2017 SpringFest 5 @ 7.
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