Alpine Canada has issued a statement after four women sexually assaulted by ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest spoke out. The women won the right last week to be identified after a judge granted their request to lift a publication ban.
Charest was convicted on 37 counts of sexual assault and related charges for a series of crimes committed in the 1990s.
The trial Judge Sylvain Lepine said in his ruling that Alpine Canada had ignored Charest's actions, a sentiment that was echoed by one of the victims.
The Alpine Canada statement reads:
"All the victims of Bertrand Charest showed tremendous courage when they came forward to bring him to justice. Now, four of them have decided to do something more, and we commend their determination and commitment in breaking the public silence in order to speak out.
"On behalf of Alpine Canada, but also personally, as former female athletes ourselves, we thank all of them for their courage and for re living the pain to help ensure this never happens again.
"When the incidents came to light in 1998, the organization could have offered more support to the victims in this difficult time. We have learned from this horrible situation by re-writing our policies, requiring mandatory training and improving governance.
A"lpine Canada is ready to collaborate with any organization that is committed to improving safety, respect and prevention of harassment in sport. We welcome all initiatives proposed or developed by any relevant and experienced organization across the country that will help achieve this goal.
"We want to ensure no one ever suffers like these women have suffered.
"Some of the safety improvements made at Alpine Canada in recent years are:
- Mandatory background checks for all Alpine Canada (ACA) staff and coaches
- Mandatory background checks for all active ACA-Canadian Ski Coaches (CSC) member coaches
- Code of conduct for all ACA-CSC coaches
- Policy in place to recognize, respond to and report instances where the code of conduct has been breached, including whistleblower policy
- Zero tolerance of athlete-coach sexual relationships
- All ACA staff coaches required to complete the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) module “Make Ethical Decisions”
- Mandatory harassment training through the Respect Group for all ACA staff, coaches, athletes and contractors
- Creation of a U18 Safe in Sport policy
- Rule of Two criteria included in ACA U18 Safe in Sport Policy
- Annual reviews of all safety policies
- Annual ACA-CSC coaching database updates to provide all Provincial and club partners a centralized location to review an active ACA-CSC member coach status to ensure they have met the requirements to be licensed, including the completion of a background screen, signature of the coaching code of conduct and the identification of coaches who have breached the coaching code of conduct.
"Martha Hall Findlay, Chair of the Board, Alpine Canada
"Vania Grandi, President and CEO, Alpine Canada"