Lawyers to set date next month in case of Quebec gymnastics coach

The gymnastics rings hang at the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

MONTREAL — Lawyers are expected to set a date next month for a lengthy preliminary hearing in the case of a former gymnastics coach charged with sexual assault.

Neither Michel Arsenault nor the main lawyers were present at the Montreal courthouse Tuesday as the case was postponed until Sept. 21.

Arsenault, 56, is facing four charges of assault and three of sexual assault.

Six women were between 10 and 20 at the time of the alleged crimes in Montreal in the 1980s and early ’90s.

Arsenault was arrested in mid-May in Edmonton, where he founded the Champions Gymnastics gym in 2002, and has lived in Alberta since 1994.

He is under conditions that include being forbidden from being in contact with the plaintiffs and witnesses, as well as taking paid employment or working as a volunteer if either involves having authority over a minor.

Arsenault was suspended in December by Gymnastics Canada — the federation that oversees the sport in Canada — after allegations first reported by Radio-Canada involving three women.

He was subsequently barred from the Edmonton gym.

Rose-Marie Picard, a lawyer who is affiliated with Arsenault’s legal team, told the judge Tuesday the defence is awaiting further evidence from the Crown and that the date for the preliminary inquiry will be set next month.

Picard says it’s up to the main lawyers in the file to determine the length of the hearing.

Arsenault is free and is believed to be still living in Alberta.

Picard says his presence won’t be required at the next date.

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