Sexual Abuse in Skating: Open Investigation for Rape and Sexual Assault on Minors

Sport
Sarah Abitbol and her partner.

In a book, ex-skating champion Sarah Abitbol tells of being raped and sexually assaulted by her coach when she was a minor.

French justice opened Tuesday 4th February 2020 a preliminary investigation for rape and sexual assault on minors by a person having authority over the victim, in particular to the prejudice of the former skating champion Sarah Abitbol.

In a testimonial book published last week, Un si long silence (Plon), Sarah Abitbol, ​​ten times French champion in figure skating in pairs, European and world multi-winner in pairs, accuses former trainer Gilles Beyer of having raped her and sexually assaulted several times between 1990 to 1992, a period covered by the prescription. She was between the ages of 15 and 17.

In a press release, the prosecutor Rémy Heitz specified that the investigations, entrusted to the juvenile brigade, “will endeavour to identify any other victims who may have suffered, in the context described, similar offences”, beyond the facts discussed in this book.



“I’m happy, I’m relieved. This speaking finally begins to bear fruit, “reacted Ms Abitbol on BFM TV. “I am moved because it is 30 years of fighting,” she added.

For Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, the opening of an investigation is “a strong signal”. “The words of the victims must be heard by the justice system,” she tweeted in the middle of the day.

Friday, Gilles Beyer, 62, acknowledged in a written statement to AFP, “intimate” and “inappropriate” with Sarah Abitbol, ​​offering him “apologies”.

Read also: Sarah Abitbol’s ex-trainer admits “intimate inappropriate” relationships

The former champion immediately refused these excuses and declared on the website of the weekly L’Obs that she was waiting for a second step, “one that will highlight the responsibility of all those who covered, in the club (the Flying French, editor’s note ) and to the federation ”.

In the early 2000s, on the basis of a report from parents, Gilles Beyer had been the subject of a judicial investigation which did not succeed, then of an administrative investigation, which led the Ministry of Sports to terminate his functions as a State executive on March 31, 2001.

The FFSG in turmoil

Despite this sidelining, Gilles Beyer continued his career in the Parisian flying French club, chaired by his brother Alain, until his ouster on Friday, and served several terms at the executive office of the French Sports Federation ice (FFSG) until 2018.

Other former skaters have made similar charges against Gilles Beyer and other coaches.

Hélène Godard accused Gilles Beyer in the sports daily L’Equipe and L’Obs of having had sex with her when she was 13 and 14 years old.

Anne Bruneteaux and Béatrice Dumur accused them of another former trainer, Michel Lotz, of having abused them in the 1980s when they were 13 years old.

This affair plunged the FFSG and its unsinkable president Didier Gailhaguet into turmoil.

Monday, the Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, received Didier Gailhaguet, head of the FFSG since 1998, with the exception of the period 2004-2007, so that he explains, in particular, the retention, Gilles Beyer’s 2000s, despite the suspicions that already weighed on him.

She also asked for her resignation, but the boss of the federation evaded questions about her future, promising to make revelations during a press conference Wednesday.

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