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Five female athletes accuse coach of sexual harassment, cops begin inquiry
Following the arrest of a school teacher over sexual harassment charges during online classes, five young women athletes have come out with sexual abuse allegations against their coach at an athletic academy in Chennai. The city police have started an inquiry. “The allegations against the coach have come to our notice and an inquiry has begun,” a senior police officer said.
A few of the former trainees testified against him on social media and their WhatsApp messages detailing the trauma they faced are now going viral. The coach is accused of inappropriately touching his trainees during relaxation exercises and warm-ups.
“While there have been such complaints in the past, my daughter was subject to sexual harassment during the first lockdown when training academies were partly allowed to open. Local DMK MLA Prabhakar Raja knows about this and a formal complaint will be lodged with the TN Sports Minister. The victims are teenagers and protecting their identity is crucial, but we are ready to reveal details to the investigating agencies,” said the parent of an 18-year-old, who is also a DMK cadre in south Chennai.
Independent sports journalist TN Raghu, who recorded the testimony of the five victims, has reached out to the official Twitter handle of Chief Minister M K Stalin and DMK leaders seeking a detailed investigation against the coach.
Sources said that two months ago, there was an allegation of sexual harassment against him and the matter was placed before the Tamil Nadu Athletics Association (TNAA) and an enquiry was also conducted.
Commenting on the allegations, Andrew Sesuraj of Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch said, “The Pocso Act does not stipulate a timeline to file a complaint. If the child who was abused when she was 12 and she realises that she was abused only at the age of 20, Pocso has provisions that allows the child to file a complaint. The only difficulty here is to prove the crime,” he said.
A senior police officer said that the allegation against the coach has come to their notice and they have started an inquiry.
Meanwhile, several such complaints against top school and college teachers have been flooding social media even as the State government has come out with revised guidelines for conducting online classes.