Sexual assault trial for former ski coach put off until Thursday

A trial for a former national ski coach Bertrand Charest, who faces dozens of sex-related charges involving allegations from girls as young as 12, has been put off until Thursday.

The 57 charges against Charest include sexual assault and breach of trust and are related to alleged crimes against 12 people between the ages of 12 and 19.

His trial was to have begun Monday in Saint-Jerome, where Charest has been in custody since his arrest in March 2015.

But a judge granted the three-day delay because the accused has new lawyers.

Charest, who worked with Alpine Canada's women's development team between 1996 and 1998, was in the prisoner's box Monday.

The allegations date back to the 1990s and involve locations such as Mont-Tremblant, north of Montreal, and Whistler, B.C., as well as in France, Austria, New Zealand and the United States.

Antonio Cabral, one of Charest's new lawyers, said the delay is necessary so he and another defence attorney can get up to speed.

"We came in late to the file,'' he told reporters. "We came in a couple of weeks ago. And because of the fact we were unable to meet with our client on the dates we wanted to...we needed a couple of days more in order to get prepared to start the trial.''

Alpine Canada released a statement Monday wishing "to acknowledge the courage of those former athletes who have brought forward their charges to be heard in the court of law.''

The national skiing organization said it had contacted the RCMP in 1998 about sexual abuse allegations against Charest.

"We are not aware of the results of (the 1998) investigation,'' Alpine Canada said, adding it will "continue to co-operate with relevant authorities to ensure that all facts related to the events in question are determined and addressed.''