French tennis rocked by alleged sexual abuse with underage students

NANTERRE (AFP) - French tennis was rocked Wednesday by a second case of alleged sexual abuse when a tennis coach was charged over the suspected rape of three underage students, prosecutors said.

Andrew Geddes, a 48-year-old man from New Jersey in the United States, was charged with "rape and sexual assault on minors", Robert Gelli, a prosecutor in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, told AFP.

Geddes is suspected of having raped and assaulted three students aged 12 to 17 on several occasions between 1999 and 2005, when he worked at a tennis club in Sarcelles near the French capital.

The case has caused a stir in the tennis world, which is still reeling from the February conviction on appeal of top tennis coach Regis de Camaret for the rape of two underage girls at a training camp he ran.

Initially sentenced to eight years in jail, the appeals court added two years to the sentence of the man who counted former Wimbledon runner-up Nathalie Tauziat and former French national champion Isabelle Demongeot among his pupils.

Geddes's suspected victims were allegedly assaulted at the coach's home, in his car, at the club, and on trips away for tournaments.

"The three victims kept silent for years because they felt they were under his hold," a judicial source said.

But in February, one of the victims made a complaint and two other young girls then went to the police with similar accusations.

Police on Monday detained Geddes at the Levallois Sporting Club (LSC), also next to Paris, where he held the post of sporting director.

"He does not dispute having sexual relations with these three young girls, but says they were consensual," Gelli said. "But he admitted one rape in one particular case."

Geddes also admitted having been violent physically and psychologically, he said.

"He hit them, filmed one of them giving him a blow job and threatened the young girl to broadcast the video," Gelli added.

Former French tennis champion Henri Leconte, president of the tennis branch of the LSC, said he was "shocked and shattered as a father and as president of the club" upon hearing news of Geddes's alleged crime.

"Here, he trained adults, experienced players, and was not in contact with children," he said.

Gilbert Ysern, head of the French Tennis Federation, said this new scandal was "obviously bad publicity for the sport."

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