Carlos Franch, the former artistic gymnastics coach of the Betxí Gymnastic Club (a small town of 5,700 inhabitants in the province of Castellón) has been sentenced this Monday to 15 and a half years in prison for sexually abusing three minor gymnasts.
There were nine more who reported, but in their cases the crimes have prescribed.
“The facts declared proven constitute three continuous crimes of sexual abuse, each one carried out on minors.
Likewise, the sexual abuse should be considered aggravated because the defendant has prevailed to commit the crime of a superior relationship derived from his condition as coach and technical director of the minor gymnasts and from his great age difference with the aforementioned victims (more than 40 years) ”, reads sentence n.
370 of the First Section of the Provincial Court of Castellón.
It was handed down 13 days after the trial was seen for sentencing by President Esteban Solaz and Justices Raquel Alcácer and Aurora de Diego.
The prosecutor had requested 22 years and six months and the private prosecution, 25 (it added penalties for unjust harassment that have been rejected).
The "hell" in the lamp room
Carlos Franch is 63 years old and for 31 years (until his arrest in June 2017) he was an artistic gymnastics coach at the Gymnàstic club, for girls between 6 and 17 years old and, at the same time, janitor at the Betxí municipal sports center.
His 'modus operandi', which has been proven, was the same throughout those 31 years and with different generations of gymnasts.
He availed himself of professional prestige due to his status as a qualified coach and as a janitor at the municipal sports facilities, and with the excuse of massaging the minors, he placed the victims' feet on his penis and began continuous friction movements (“rubbing ”) Until you get sexual satisfaction.
As one of the victims said during the trial, "it didn't matter what kind of injury you might have, he always put his foot on his penis."
A coach is a coach and is not qualified to give massages.
Franch didn't have a degree for it.
These massages were given on a stretcher (known as the lamp room, which Franch often locked), on a mat on the training ground and on the couch in his home where the minors went, with the permission of the parents, oblivious to everyone, to film sessions that he himself organized in summer or during school holidays.
The rapporteur magistrate highlights in the sentence the value of the testimony of the victims (the three protected witnesses are minors) as an “incriminating element” in crimes of this type, characterized by the circumstances in which they are committed “since the presence of other witnesses ”.
The "factual account in the commission of the facts described is fully credited," he adds.
It also highlights "despite his young age, his courage and conviction force for this Court as evidence of the charge to sustain a conviction."
He also underlines the importance of the different witness statements (he cites the nine who were victims in their day and whose crimes have been prescribed) because they have helped to show the "modus operandi" developed by Franch "over time" and because they "reinforce the credibility of the testimonies given by the protected witnesses ”.
“I am totally innocent;
massages have never been given clandestinely, "said Carlos Franch on the last day of the trial on the 18th. The defense's thesis - which presented two expert reports - was that associating these massages with any sexual activity was a" perverse and twisted ”.
The psychologist Julio Bronchal, who signed one of the expert reports, assured that in the evaluation he made of Franch "there are no behavioral traits of sexual violence or behaviors typical of an abuser."
In the other expert defense report, signed by a general practitioner, Dr. Miguel Soriano, there was as proof that the massages were performed correctly a 1980 physical preparation manual (discontinued) from the University of Guayaquil and a video YouTube titled How to give your boy a relaxing leg massage.
Both specialists assured that Franch suffered an inguinal hernia, so the victims could have mistaken the erections for that hernia.
The magistrate who signs the sentence dismantles both theses.
“Mr. Bronchal criticizes the methodological weakness of the forensic medical report on the occasion of a psychological examination of the accused to determine whether it corresponds to the profile of a sexual abuser of minors and not to assess the credibility of the minor victims.
[…] The Chamber prioritizes the conclusions of the forensic medical report on the credibility of the victims' testimony over the psychological report of the defense that questions its methodology, giving greater probative value to the former ”.
And he adds: “Finally, we cannot give any probative value to the expert report issued by the general practitioner Dr. Miguel Soriano Sanchís on the normality of the placement of the foot between the legs of the masseur to immobilize the foot and on the circumstance that the accused he suffered from an inguinal hernia that could be mistaken for an erect penis.
Regarding the first of the questions, because the expert is not a physiotherapist or a specialist in traumatology and there is no normality or can exist in the fact of placing the foot of the massaged in the genital area of the masseur to perform a massage, let alone rubbing or "scrubbing" to satisfy the masseur's sexual desires.
And regarding the second question, because the defendant has not stated at any point in the process that he suffers from an inguinal hernia that could be confused with an erect penis when giving the massages, the expert witness has not been able to examine the defendant's inguinal hernia because when he intervened it had already been operated on ”.
The sentence that condemns Carlos Franch comes almost two years after (February 2019) the one that sentenced Miguel Ángel Millán, a former athletics coach, also for abusing minors.
Millán was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In addition to 15 and a half, the former Betxí coach is sentenced to a special disqualification of 10 years for the exercise of any profession or trade that involves sports activities related to minors.
The Betxì city council and the Gymnàstic Club have been considered subsidiary direct managers.