Sailing: Greek coach arrested for rape of 11-year-old athlete

Past champion Sofia Bekatorou had given evidence on the rape of the young girl to prosecutors on Wednesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS (AFP) - A Greek sailing coach accused of raping an 11-year-old athlete was arrested on Sunday (Jan 24), in the latest aftershock from an Olympic champion's allegations of sexual abuse in the sport.

The 38-year-old, who has so far not been named by authorities, was arrested on the island of Samos for the offences allegedly committed nine years ago, the Athens News Agency reported.

Past champion Sofia Bekatorou had given evidence on the rape of the young girl, now aged 20, to prosecutors on Wednesday after speaking to the victim.

The younger athlete as well as her parents have also testified to prosecutors.

In media interviews in which he did not give his name, the 38-year-old said he had not raped the young girl, claiming the pair were in a relationship and adding he wanted to marry her.

Bekatorou, a 43-year-old mother of two who claimed an Olympic sailing gold in 2004 and a bronze in 2008, has encouraged other women to break decades of silence about sexual abuse in the sport by coming forward with her own experience.

She said she was subjected to "sexual harassment and abuse" at age 21 by a senior federation member in his hotel room, shortly after trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Several other female athletes have stepped forward since she went public, while nearly a dozen other women have alleged sexual harassment by professors at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University, one of the country's top higher learning institutions.

None of those complaints can be prosecuted as they occurred decades earlier.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee and the government have urged other sex abuse victims to speak out.

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