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Trial of a former figure skating coach | “I was so scared”, says the complainant

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An alleged victim of Richard Gauthier, accused in particular of sexual assault, gave a moving testimony to the court

A sauna bath “ritual”, nights stuck “in a spoon” and an erotic message: the figure skating coach Richard Gauthier would have put one of his young students through an ordeal in the 1980s. rolled up, as one rolls up a lover. I felt his penis on my buttocks, “said Clément * to the court.

Richard Gauthier’s trial opened Tuesday at the Montreal courthouse. The 60-year-old is charged with gross indecency, sexual assault and indecent assault of a male for acts committed against a boy then aged 11 to 14 . A court order protects the complainant’s identity.

A highly regarded figure skating coach, Richard Gauthier has coached some of the country’s best athletes on the international stage. He was inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2017. He was suspended by Skate Canada following legal proceedings.


PHOTO ANDRÉ PICHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Richard Gauthier, in 2013

Richard Gauthier was in his early twenties in the early 1980s when he took Clément, an 11-year-old skater, under his wing. “I loved him very much, I admired him. We had a pretty special relationship. I was his favorite, ”says Clément. Their relationship also made other club skaters jealous, he recalls. “I often slept at his place,” continues the plaintiff.

But these nights at his trainer’s were not pleasant. Richard Gauthier had a “ritual” of “sauna bath”, says Clément. He would start the shower to steam up the bathroom, then the coach and his student would wash each other.

He asked me to wash it. He washed my back, my legs and went through my buttocks. I avoided those places.

The plaintiff, about Richard Gauthier

In cross-examination, Clément assures us that these common showers were indeed of a sexual nature. “Washing the buttocks of his 13-14 year old student, if it’s not sexual…”, he blurts out.

After the shower, Richard Gauthier went to bed naked “in a spoon” with the young teenager, who then had “sleepless nights”. “He was like, ‘I love you, you’re like my little brother.’ I felt his sex stuck against me. Once, he was masturbating next to me, ”he confides.

One night, Richard Gauthier stayed at the bedside of his sick dog all night. “I was so happy. He hadn’t touched me all night, ”recalls the plaintiff.

“I was completely frozen”

Two episodes marked Clément. Once, Richard Gauthier undertook a massage while the two were naked. A traumatic experience. “He sits on top of me, massages my legs. He touches my testicles. I was completely frozen. I was so scared,” says Clément.

Then, the trainer asked her to massage him in turn. “I saw his penis. It disgusted me,” he said. An incident “clear as crystal” in his mind.

In the indoor swimming pool of Richard Gauthier’s building, Clément remembers having masturbated, while his trainer was watching him. Both were naked in the pool. “It happened, I’m sure of it,” assures Clément in cross-examination. If he has long had a “fuzzy” on this subject, it is that he took years to “acknowledge” the event.

In his mid-teens, Clément stopped seeing Richard Gauthier outside of practice. ” It’s a question of survival. I paid the next day, he punished me more than the others. But I was ready to take it on,” he says.

“Very precise memories”

Clement took decades to realize that these incidents were not “normal”. When he first spoke about it, when he had sunk into a deep depression, it was the start of “six years of hell” of remembering the events, he confides.

But filing a complaint was a “total liberation” for Clément. “I had been depressed for 10 years. If I didn’t pass my second therapy, I said to myself: I’m going to die. It was the only chance for me to get out of it. There, I started to heal, to say that it was not my fault, ”he testifies.

Confronted by defense counsel, Mr.and Giuseppe Battista, in cross-examination, Clément assured to have “very precise memories” of the incidents of a sexual nature. “We spend our lives saying: it can’t be, you make it all up. The physical and psychological consequences are there. You do therapy and you say to yourself: it happened, ”he slices.

According to the defense, Clément has already stayed to sleep at his coach’s house, but never in a sexual context. Richard Gauthier would have touched the plaintiff only once, and only to check the “gurgling” of his belly, advance the defense. “It is false”, according to the plaintiff.

The Crown prosecutor, Mr.and Amélie Rivard, concluded her evidence on Tuesday. Richard Gauthier is expected to testify Thursday before Judge Josée Bélanger.

* Fictitious first name

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