Updated: Woman says Bertrand Charest stuck his hands down her pants when she was about 16

Updated: Woman says Bertrand Charest stuck his hands down her pants when she was about 16

ST-JEROME, Que. — Another alleged victim of Bertrand Charest testified at his sex-assault trial Wednesday and said the former ski coach put his hands down her pants when she was about 16.

She said the incident occurred as Charest was driving her to a ski competition.

The witness was the seventh alleged victim to take the stand at the trial, which began last week in Saint-Jerome, north of Montreal.

Charest is facing 57 charges, including sexual assault and breach of trust for alleged offences against 12 females between the ages of 12 and 19.

Wednesday’s first witness said that on another occasion, Charest pushed her up against a wall and kissed her.

She said that at the time she “would have done anything” for Charest and hoped the alleged incidents meant it would be her turn to get more attention from the coach.

“I wanted to go fast (skiing) and I wanted to be the best,” she said. “I wanted his attention.”

Under cross-examination, the woman said the alleged groping in the van took place on the road between Mont-Tremblant, Que., and Ottawa during the 1995-1996 ski season, but that she couldn’t remember where they raced the next day.

The alleged incidents occurred prior to Charest’s stint with Alpine Canada’s women’s development team between 1996 and 1998.

Following her testimony, the court heard from another ex-skier who was coached in the mid-1990s by the now 51-year-old Charest.

The woman, who is not among the alleged victims, said Charest would pick alternating favourites among his students — praising some while mocking others for their performances.

“It was a roller coaster where he’d make you feel good, and then he’d destroy your confidence,” said the woman, who testified by videoconference.

She said one of the other ski team members, who is among the alleged victims who have already testified, confided in her in early 1997 about a sexual relationship she was having with Charest.

The witness said Charest described the relationship as “a moment of weakness” when she confronted him about it some weeks later.

The court also heard from two brothers of an alleged victim who said Tuesday she’d had an abortion at the age of 15 after having unprotected sex with Charest numerous times.

One of the siblings testified he wrote Charest to challenge him about the relationship.

Charest wrote back to say he’d been in love with the girl at the time, the court heard.

Several witnesses have testified they had sexual relationships with Charest and have said he was controlling and manipulative toward the athletes whose careers he supervised.

The court was also shown a video last week of Charest’s deposition to police after his 2015 arrest where he said he was in love with two of his alleged victims and told authorities he never did anything to anyone against their will.

The allegations date back to the 1990s and involve locations such as Whistler, B.C., New Zealand, Italy and the United States.

The trial continues Thursday.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
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