Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another Case of Sex Abuse in the Martial Arts

In Finland, a Taekwondo instructor is charged with "22 counts, and a total of 799 individual acts of molestation." Please read my previous post on ways to prevent this and protect our vulnerable students. Keep in mind that the accused hasn't been convicted at the time of this posting.

Martial arts coach in Oulu faces charges of molesting young girls

One of Finland’s most extensive sex crime trials began behind closed doors in Oulu District Court on Monday. The prosecution is calling for prison sentences for a 33-year-old martial arts coach. He stands accused of the sexual abuse of a large number of girls who took Taekwondo lessons from him. The indictment contains 22 counts, and a total of 799 individual acts of molestation.

The alleged crimes took place between 1997 and 2005 in different parts of the north of Finland. There are a total number of 12 plaintiffs in the case. Some of the girls were 14 and 15 years old at the time of the alleged crimes. Most of the acts took place when the victims were 16 and 17.

The coach has been in custody since early January, when he was arrested following tip-offs from martial arts enthusiasts.

The trial is being held behind closed doors in order to protect the identity of the girls in question.

Final arguments in the trial are to be held on the 13th of September.

Sexual molestation of a minor can bring a sentence of up to four years in prison. In this case the final sentence can be heavier, because of the large number of counts against him.

The coach himself has denied committing any crimes. He says that the relationships with his pupils involved normal dating, and that no coercion was involved.

The defendant also faces charges of financial crimes involving hundreds of thousands of euros.

The Taekwondo community observes a strict hierarchy. Pupils are required to swear an oath emphasising respect for the coach and those with higher-ranking belts.

The prosecution says that the defendant used his high position as a teacher and a coach as a way of winning sexual favours from his students.

Police say that all of the acts followed the same pattern. However, no details were given out to the public.

The defendant made secret videotape recordings of his activities. The tapes have been confiscated by police.

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