Greek Male, Female Gymnasts Allege Sexual, Verbal Abuse by Coaches

ATHENS – A growing wave of sexual harassment cases, now including alleged verbal abuse, has hit Greece’s gynmastics sector with 22 former athletes making the claims against an unspecified number of unnamed coaches.

Most of the allegations of sexual misconduct haven’t specified names apart from a few high profile cases during investigations into the arts, sports and media, now spreading to the gymnasts, various media reports said.

The head of the Athens Prosecutor’s Office ordered a probe into claims made by the gymnasts, not named, with a letter also sent to President t Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the sports federation.

The athletes said that the incidents they described took place when they were young, and training to become gymnasts with the newspaper Kathimerini saying the reported incidents go back some 36 years, to 1985.

The said victims alleged beatings, psychological abuse, corporal punishment and sexual harassment but it wasn’t said why they weren’t reported before now when a #MeToo movement is outing more cases.

The new charges remind of a similar scandal in the United States by athletes, including Olympians, against former coaches with the claims in Greece being made both by men and women who were in training at the time.

The assertions included reports of humiliating treatment, extreme diets and beatings, even for pre-teens but it wasn’t said if alleged sexual abuse included underage victims, but the mistreatment said widespread and not isolated.

The reports said some looked for food in garbage bins at hotels because they weren’t allowed to eat enough in an attempt to keep them thin, with some females saying they were required to do a split and land on a coach’s hand with their crotch where they were grabbed.

Most of the incidents are far past the statute of limitations for prosecution which means, if true, the perpetrators will get off scot-free and it wasn’t said if anyone will be named for anything or if they are still coaching.

The sexual scandals erupted after former Olympic gold medalist Sofia Becatorou said she was sexually assaulted in the late 1990’s by a sports federation vice-president, whose name came out but who hasnt been prosecuted while denying any wrongdoing.

The .Council of First Instance Justices approved authorities obtaining the phone records of  former National Theater director Dimitris Lignadis who has been accused of raping two male minors.

The justices consented that the severity of the case warranted an inquiry into written texts, social media posts, emails, recorded messages, and photos, among others, including stored remotely on the cloud, reports also said.


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