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Society

Greek Sailing Coach Cleared of Serial Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl

ATHENS – A 39-year-old Greek sailing coach tried in a sensational case was acquitted of the serial rape of an 11-year-0ld, his student, but convicted of sexual abuse of the victim.

Triantafyllos Apostolou went on trial in January but escaped conviction on the more serious charges after four jurors voted against it despite a prosecutor saying he was guilty, reported Kathimerini.

The sentencing will be decided after the trial continues to give his legal team a chance to present their defense and mitigating circumstances in a bid to lessen penalties he faces.

The trial saw Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou attending the court case after being credited with sparking Greece’s “#MeToo” moment after she said she was also raped by a state sailing official who couldn’t be prosecuted

Apostolou was arrested in January of 2021 and charged with multiple counts of rape, assault on a minor and the corruption of a minor, the woman now 21 but not named at the request of her family.

Apostolou pleaded not guilty, and was quoted by the Agence France-Presse as saying: “It happened several times,” but said he intended to marry the 11-year-old and that the families were aware of their relationship.

When the trial started, the sailing coach first denied the accusations but said he was “in love” with the little girl who legally couldn’t consent to any sexual activity because of her age.

“We were to be married and her mother had agreed,” he told the Proto Thema newspaper although the prosecution said he used “psychological violence against the minor” to stop her telling her parents what had happened., the British newspaper The Guardian said at the time.

The victim is now a prominent member of Greece’s national sailing team, Greek sports having been rocked by a series of sexual scandals that hadn’t seen any major findings until now.

Speaking outside the courtroom, the athlete also said that she hoped the trial would encourage others to come forward after there were calls in Greece for silence and impunity to end.

“It’s a painful procedure,” she told reporters. “We are still at the beginning but we are a family and we are here to fight, altogether and for all the others who follow and I hope will follow,” she also added.

Greece New Democracy government led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, introduced tougher penalties for sexual assault, and extended the statute of limitations for the abuse of a minor.

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