ATHENS — "I hope other women and other people will come forward and talk," veteran Olympic champion Sophia Bekatorou said on Wednesday as she left the public prosecutor's office, after concluding her testimony regarding the sexual abuse she has reported at the hands of a Greek Sailing Federation official in 1998.
For more than three hours, Bekatorou, the first key witness in the prosecution's investigation, testified to the Prosecutor Nikos Stafanatos.
Bekatorou gave a detailed account of the events she alleges occurred during a mission to Spain in 1998, saying that she had "carried it inside" for many years and had not found the strength to make it public at a time when the accused could face justice. The alleged offence cannot now be prosecuted based on her testimony alone, as it is statute-barred under Greek law.
After her testimony, she told reporters: "I testified about my personal case. On this occasion, I hope other women and other people will come forward and talk, so that society is healthier and we are not afraid."
As part of the investigation, her testimony to the prosecutor will be evaluated and other witnesses are expected to be summoned to testify.
The case, which has just opened, is expected to encourage other athletes, both female and male, who may have been sexually abused as part of their sports activities, to come to the prosecutor and report recent acts perpetrated against them.
Bekatorou also reported offence that is not statute-barred
According to credible sources, veteran Olympic champion Sophia Bekatorou has provided evidence that can be used to initiate a criminal prosecution, in her testimony on Wednesday to the public prosecutor conducting a preliminary examination into her allegations of sexual abuse.
The sources said that she has named another sailing athlete who may be the victim of sexual abuse. The criminal act against her teammate is said to have been committed at a time when the offense was not statute-barred.
Therefore, the athlete to whom Bekatorou referred will be immediately summoned by the prosecutor to testify, in order to confirm Bekatorou's allegations and may in turn lead to the "next link in the chain" of violent and degrading behaviours targeting career athletes by federation officials.