Former Coach Sentenced to Over 10 Years in Prison for Raping Star Speedskater

A former nationwide speedskating coach in South Korea was sentenced on Thursday to greater than a decade in jail on expenses of raping an Olympic athlete.

The coach, Cho Jae-beom, was accused of rape in 2019 by Shim Suk-hee, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track speedskating who mentioned he had sexually assaulted her repeatedly beginning when she was 17. A district court docket within the metropolis of Suwon sentenced Mr. Cho to 10 years and 6 months in jail, together with 200 hours of remedy in a program for intercourse offenders.

Ms. Shim, 23, is a well-regarded determine in a sport that could be a supply of nationwide pleasure; short-track speedskating has produced extra Olympic gold medals for South Korea than every other nation. However like different sports activities within the nation, it has lengthy been shadowed by allegations of corruption and abuse, with few victims prepared to talk out.

Prosecutors mentioned the sexual assaults occurred on 30 events from 2014 to 2017. Mr. Cho, who admitted to abusing Ms. Shim bodily and verbally, denied the rape accusation, however the choose mentioned on Thursday that Ms. Shim’s testimony was credible, and that textual content messages the 2 had exchanged additionally pointed to an inappropriate coach-athlete relationship.

Ms. Shim’s lawyer, Lim Sang-hyuk, mentioned that though Mr. Cho’s conviction was an indication of progress, he felt the sentence was too lenient contemplating the struggling Ms. Shim needed to endure.

Lately, elite athletes world wide have exposed a culture of abuse during which coaches and medical doctors maintain outsize energy. In South Korea, bodily abuse has usually been seen as a harsh however inevitable a part of coaching, particularly when athletes go on to win prestigious prizes.

Mr. Cho, 39, was convicted in 2018 of bodily assaulting Ms. Shim and three different athletes, and his authentic sentence of 10 months in jail was prolonged to 18 months on attraction. He was fired as coach of the nationwide short-track speedskating crew earlier that 12 months, shortly earlier than the beginning of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Ms. Shim received her second Olympic gold medal at these Video games, having received her first in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

Her sexual abuse accusations in opposition to Mr. Cho had been seen as a turning level in efforts to handle abuses in South Korea’s speedskating neighborhood. President Moon Jae-in responded by urging authorities officers to take such allegations significantly. “This unveils the humiliating underside of our nation’s superb facade as a sports activities powerhouse,” he mentioned in January 2019.

Some specialists mentioned that the federal government had lengthy neglected the widespread abuse of athletes and that latest measures, together with the introduction of whistle-blower hotlines, had yielded little outcomes. They instructed that it took Ms. Shim’s star energy to carry individuals accountable.

“If Shim Suk-hee weren’t an Olympic gold medalist, her case too may have been buried,” Chung Yong-chul, a professor of sports activities psychology at Sogang College in Seoul, the South Korean capital, mentioned on the time.

After the sentencing on Thursday, Ms. Shim mentioned that she hoped it might encourage survivors of abuse to come back ahead with their experiences. “I hope the court docket’s determination will considerably assist victims inside our society discover their voice,” she mentioned in a written assertion. “I sincerely hope that comparable incidents won’t ever occur once more sooner or later.”

Tiffany Might reported from Hong Kong, and Youmi Kim from Seoul.

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