ATHENS – The Vice-President of the Hellenic Sailing Federation, Aristidis Adamopoulos, has denied allegations he sexually assaulted Greek olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou in 1998 and won’t stop down from his post there.
Two other members did in response to what they said was the federation’s apparent attempt to shift blame to her for waiting 23 years to report what she said was a forced “lewd act,” with some reports calling it rape.
Adamopoulos, in a short statement, said he would abstain from his duties as federation representative to the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) “until the case is resolved,” said Kathimerini.
He earlier told the newspaper and site Proto Thema that there was no assault and threatened court action over the report if the media persisted in writing about, a common tactic in Greece.
The federation asked for his resignation as Vice-President, a position he's held since 1997 but after he refused there was no explanation why he couldn’t be fired, suspended or removed with the Sports Ministry saying it would conduct a probe.
The two sailing federation officils who resigned did so in protest at the federation's original response, which called Bekatorou's sexual assault an “unfortunate event” and appeared for blame her for taking so long to reveal it.
HOC President Spyros Kapralos and General Secretary Manolis Kolymbadis quit the federation in protest and referred the case to an ethics commission after the organization described the alleged sexual assault as an “unfortunate event” only.
Meanwhile, Bekatorou was summoned to testify before prosecutor Sotiria Papageorgakopoulou on Wednesday.
Since Bekatorou came forward, she has drawn support from other athletes and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis while the newspaper said that Niki Bakogianni, a silver medalist in the high jump at the Atlanta Olympics, have talked of their own experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of officials of their sports federation.
Greek President of Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou invited Bekatorou to come to the the Presidential Mansion, the sailing champion – who won gold in the Athens Olympics in 2004 – saying she didn't report the incident at the time in fear for her career and dividing Greece's team when she was 21 years old.
In a column in Kathimerini, journalist Maria Katsounaki was scathing in her indictment of what reportedly had happened after Bekatorou revealed it during an online conference organized by the Ministry of Culture and Sport titled Start to Talk – Break the Silence – Speak, Do Not Tolerate.
“She spoke about the abuse she suffered as a young athlete. But, let’s call a spade a spade: ‘abuse’ is a euphemism for what clearly was rape,” Katsounaki wrote.
Bekatorou explained it this way: “In my young, innocent mind, the only solution was to keep silent and pretend nothing had happened.”
She added, With a lot of work, therapy and analysis, I managed to accept my responsibility for not speaking then, so that this official could be banned from sports facilities.”