Well-known Quebec riding coach Francis Berger has been accused of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching involving at least two young women between 2004 and 2022. The trainer from Mont-Saint-Hilaire (on the south shore of Montreal) was formally charged on December 5th. Le Journal de Montreal reported that according to court documents, the 54-year-old man exploited a minor victim and also sexually assaulted a young adult during that time.

Berger has been involved in the horse industry for over two decades. He has coached a number of talented young riders at South Shore Farm, of which he is a shareholder and sole director, including Bianca Lafontaine and Coraline Thibault. He was also in charge of the great jumper Hickstead’s reproductive career prior to the his death in 2011. He is the founder and president of EQUSS Intégral, a tack and equestrian equipment supply company.

Unidentified sources have claimed that Berger left for Florida the day after being charged, even though police suspect there may have been more victims.

Equestrian Canada had already sanctioned him earlier in the spring following a complaint, and released the following statement which reads in part:

“In the public interest, EC would like to make our community aware that formal criminal charges have been laid against Francis Berger, a coach in the equestrian field in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec by the Richelieu-Saint-Laurent Regional Police for sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching. The alleged acts occurred between 2004 and 2022.

The Police believe there may be more potential victims and are asking for the public’s assistance in this investigation. Any information about Berger or his actions can be sent confidentially to their reporting line at 450-922-7001 ext. 399.

As an EC sport license holder, we can confirm that at the onset of this investigation, Berger was immediately suspended and placed on our publicly available Not in Good Standing – Other List on our website. EC is committed to supporting law enforcement in this and any other matter and will continue to do everything we can to support the Richelieu Saint-Laurent Regional Police and/or other victims, while respecting their privacy.”

Horse Sport reached out to Berger for a comment, but he indicated he was unable to do so at this time.