Former gymnastics coach Michel Arsenault seeks stay of proceedings in sexual assault case

Former gymnastics coach Michel Arsenault has filed a motion for a stay of proceedings in his sexual assault case, accusing investigators of not properly disclosing evidence and of "contaminating" witnesses.

Arsenault is charged with two counts of sexual assault and three counts of assault, in relation to five alleged victims — all ex-gymnasts who he coached in Montreal between 1983 and 1993. Two of them were minors at the time of the alleged sexual assaults.

The 58-year-old man was arrested in May 2018 in Edmonton, where he has lived since 1997.

He was initially charged with seven counts involving six alleged victims. However, in the motion to stay proceedings filed at the Montreal courthouse, his defence lawyer mentions that the sixth alleged victim did not appear at the preliminary inquiry, so charges related to that case were dropped.

Police took no notes: defence

In her motion, Arsenault's lawyer, Roxane Hamelin, stated that the investigators in the case failed to take any notes, neither with the alleged victims nor in the course of their investigation.

Hamelin cited one example, a meeting of about three hours with one of the alleged sexual assault victims, during which she "reported all the facts supporting her complaint." The motion states that this interview with the investigator was not recorded and that the accompanying officer took no notes.

According to the defence, the investigator shared inside information with one of the alleged victims who, in turn, used that information "to communicate with other alleged victims and encourage them to pursue the process already underway."

The judge will hear arguments for and against a stay of proceedings on March 30.

Radio-Canada Sports reported in 2017 that Arsenault had intimidated gymnasts and subjected them to physical and verbal abuse. Some former gymnasts alleged they had also been sexually assaulted by their former coach. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Arsenault has already filed a motion for disclosure against the public broadcaster, requesting that Radio-Canada provide him with all the material gathered for that report. The judge will render a decision on that motion on Feb. 24.

If Arsenault's motion for a stay of proceedings is denied, the defendant's trial is set to start on June 8.