MONTREAL — The chair of the board of Alpine Canada has apologized to the victims of a former national ski coach convicted of sexual assault.
Martha Hall Findlay says the organization failed to support Bertrand Charest’s teenage victims when its leaders learned about his behaviour in 1998.
Charest was sentenced on Friday to 12 years in prison for sexually assaulting teenage girls he trained.
The offences took place both before and during Charest’s stint with Alpine Canada’s women’s development team between 1996 and 1998.
The judge ripped into Alpine Canada in his ruling, saying the organization’s leaders closed their eyes to Charest’s actions and failed miserably in their duty to protect the young athletes.
Findlay acknowledged in a statement that the organization put its own interests ahead of those of the victims at the time and thanked the women for coming forward.
“Instead of being there for the athletes, instead of providing support when these activities were discovered, Alpine Canada put itself first, not the victims,” the statement read.
“In doing so, Alpine Canada failed them. More than 20 years on, I want to say, personally and on behalf of Alpine Canada, that we are profoundly sorry.”
Findlay said Alpine Canada has since changed its policies, procedures and attitudes to prevent similar situations from occurring.
The Canadian Press
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