South Korea’s double Olympic short track gold medallist Shim Suk-hee has accused her former coach of sexual assault, her lawyer said on Wednesday. Shim filed a police complaint against Cho Jae-beom last month when he was jailed for repeatedly beating her over many years.
The 21-year-old is an elite athlete who has four Olympic medals in her tally, including relay golds at both Sochi 2014 and on home ice at last year’s Pyeongchang Games.
According to Shim’s complaint to the police, her coach sexually violated her from the age of 17 until last January. She decided to call him out and it was the month before the Olympics, her lawyer said.
“This is a grave crime that our society should not overlook,” Im Sang-hyeok told AFP, adding that Shim “kept it all to herself” until recently
Lawyer Im defended her case, saying the the sexual assault allegations was hidden by her, “in fear of the potential stigma she could face as a woman and impact on her family as well as reprisals by Cho”. But couldn’t handle the pain anymore and she “mustered up the courage” to reveal the case in hope of preventing other athletes suffering similar fates, he added.
Cho has admitted his crimes, that he took the step of beating athletes “to improve their performance”.
In the wake of the #MeToo allegations, the sports community too has not escaped the cruel reality. It had previously seen the sexual abuse by Lawrence G. Nassar, a former doctor for the American women’s gymnastics team, which eventually led him to be sentenced to decades in prison after multiple women had accused him.
Feature Image Credit: AFP/Peters Parks