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"I would stand up to him or commit suicide"


The first of the twelve gymnasts who denounced the Betxí coach for sexual abuse tells EL PAIS her nightmare of fear and loneliness and disappointment with the Federation

“Artistic gymnastics was my life and my everything.

Right now it's not inside of me and I'm not ready for it to be again.

They have hurt me, I need to breathe, ”says TP4 / 17.

It is the number that identifies you as a protected witness;

but he is a person of flesh and blood who has just turned 18 years old.

For five years, from 9 to 14, he suffered sexual abuse by his coach, Carlos Franch, who was 46. He ran the Betxí Gymnastic Club, a small town of 5,700 inhabitants in the province of Castellón and was also the janitor of the municipal sports facilities.

“In those moments you try to deny everything that is happening so as not to hurt yourself, but there comes a point where you feel so down that you need to turn off: I needed to turn off to not feel what I felt.

I denied it and I denied it until I said: now, I can't take it anymore.

It is that it is either to commit suicide or to stand up to him.

I thought so.

I couldn't commit suicide, the damage I could do to my family hurt me more than the damage I could do to him;

he was the one who was doing bad things, ”says TP4 / 17, sitting in her living room with the fireplace lit on a Saturday in January.

He stood up to her.

And then he denounced.

She was the first of twelve gymnasts to do so.

Thanks to his complaint and those that followed, Franch (who is now 63 years old) sat on the bench of the Castellón Provincial Court and has been sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison for a continuous crime of sexual abuse of minors under 13 years (nine of the 12 cases had prescribed).

On the 8th, the Court issued his entry into provisional prison (the defense has appealed the sentence).

From the complaint - June 8, 2017 - to the sentence - November 30, 2020 - TP4 / 17 has lived through a hell of fears, nightmares and anxiety attacks.

The pain in the chest disappeared along with the rest of the symptoms on the day that sentence was passed.

“I dreamed of being an Olympian;

It's what I've always wanted the most, ”he says.

She left gymnastics in 2019 and now, at just 18 years old, she is trying to rebuild her life.

Along the way he saw how he ran out of scholarship to enter the Blume residence with the national team.

She was preselected by Lucía Guisado - the national coach - to enter the High Performance Center of Madrid in September 2017 and was finally discarded (as recorded in the CSD as the number of places had been reduced).

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  • Gymnastics coach sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison for sexual abuse

  • Gloria Viseras: "Athletes are losing their fear of reporting"

“I was short of breath when I had these anxiety attacks, my legs or arms went numb.

My chest hurt a lot.

Right after testifying at the trial, the pain in my chest went away, I was so rested, "she recalls.

What has hurt you the most?

“I felt like a super strong and brave girl, with clear things;

after the complaint I felt the opposite.

I felt vulnerable, all the good that I saw in myself I stopped seeing.

This is a town, everyone throws themselves at you, it is not just that they ask you about what has happened to you, which is already hard in itself, it is that there were girls in high school who sang 'liar' to me in the hallways.

It is something that sinks you more and more and you end up believing that you have imagined everything and that everything is a lie.

You end up getting used to that person you are not, "he replies.

“Before training we always stood firm in line and he would scold us if he was angry;

Or he would tell us jokes if he was okay.

It depended.

One afternoon of joke he blurted out: if one day I go to jail, would you bring me sausage?

I was small, but that stuck with me, because I knew all the damage he was doing to me and on top of that he was joking about it.

He also said many times: 'I am like a mirror, if you do something to me I will give it back to you and worse still'.

I have come to lie in my room with my eyes closed and imagine his head in my window, like he was going to come into my room to do something to me.

There came a point of wanting to be so scary, that in the end you believed it.

He tried to protect me: he repeated to myself 'I'm not afraid of him'.

In fact, inside he did feel fear, at bedtime for example.

When I was with him, not because there he took out all the anger he had, "he says.

When he imagined Franch's head in the window, he covered his head with the sheets.

"I began to sleep with the door locked because I thought: if he opens it, it will be heard and I will wake up before he does anything to me," he adds.

Punishments, massages and touching

His is a tale of fears and nightmares.

Fear of going out into the street, fear that Franch would go looking for her, to hide when he heard the noise of his motorcycle through the town - ”if I did not say hello to him I would make one the next day… punished all day.

If I saw myself with my friends, I wondered who I had been with and what I had done.

I controlled my whole life ”-.

She was also afraid that no one would believe her, that she felt singled out.

She talks for almost two hours without a tear falling.

“I have cried too much about this issue.

The psychologist has helped me to differentiate feelings, call them by name and channel them ”, she says.

Franch masturbated with the feet of TP4 / 17 and those of his companions.

She forced them to undergo massages even though she did not have any type of qualification and although she did not suffer any type of pain, discomfort or overload.

He led her into the familiar lamp room, which he sometimes locked.

He would lay her down on the stretcher, make her put on a sock, and place her foot on his penis to masturbate.

She also did it on the gym track in front of other colleagues or in the armchair at home, where he would take her to have a snack or to watch a movie with the other colleagues.

In addition to massages, there were touching.

“He got to touch me too, yes.

They are sensations that produce disgust.

He gave us a tablet with games for us to play and not realize what he was doing.

To entertain us, as if that way we didn't notice what he was doing to us ”, he details.

At the time, she did not know nor did she imagine that she was not the only one who was being abused.

“I noticed strange things, I saw things that did not seem normal to me.

There was a colleague who never wanted to go to massages and thought: why would she not want to go?

If massage in theory is a good thing.

It didn't fit me.

I think I asked a small group, which was not that girl, if something was happening.

But nothing ever happened there, ”he recalls.

“I felt alone and empty.

I had no one to talk to, to vent I went to bed to cry without my parents noticing.

And the next day the companions asked me about my swollen eyes.

How was I going to tell them they were abusing me?

"You're doing things to me that I don't like"

Until she told him.

"He's doing things to me that I don't want and I don't like."

It was 2016. I was 13 years old.

The emotional blackmail arrived.

"He has never cried in front of anyone ... and when I told him that he started to cry, he told me that it was my fault he was taking medication, that if I was sure of what he was saying because it was going to make his life bitter," recalls gymnast.

And also: “How do you say that to me, if for 20 euros I can go to the roads [El Caminás, the area of ​​rural roads where prostitution is practiced] and have an aunt with more tits and more ass than you! '.

I was a 13-year-old girl ”.

The same blackmail was done to TP4 / 17's mother when she told her for the first time and without specifying that Carlos did things to her that she did not like.

“It was not the first time that I was going to talk to him, I did it often so that he would stop insulting and punishing the girls.

When my daughter told me that I did things to her that she didn't like, I told her and she denied it.

He became the victim: 'you are little less accusing me of being a rapist'.

I left there as best I could, telling him that I believed my daughter, that I would ask her again and if I saw her doubt, I would return to apologize, ”says the mother who was also Franch's gymnast in her time.

There were no apologies that Franch was abusing TP4 / 17;

a year later he did detail to his mother what the abuses consisted of and made a complaint.

How did the massage thing work?

“After training he would tell me: 'Come tomorrow half an hour earlier'.

And maybe it didn't hurt at all.

'Come half an hour before and I'll give you a massage.'

At one point I told him: no Carlos, I don't want you to give me massages, why, if nothing hurts ”, he answers.

He refused to go and also refused to continue training with Franch and put himself in the hands of another club coach, Mireia Mijas.

The truce was short-lived;

As a result of a foot injury - he broke both of their ligaments in 2016 - the coach went back to getting into his day to day and abusing her.

“With the excuse of the feet he returned to give me the massages.

There was a season that was daily.

I was wondering, 'okay?

Am I doing it right for you?

Or bad?'

I felt helpless there again and I said yes, nothing was wrong.

But it did.

It was the same again.

I exploded again in time.

And I said to my mother: 'Mom, he's doing it to me again.'

He asked me if I wanted to report and I said yes, "he details.

It was May 2017, there were five months left before arriving at the CAR;

On the 25th, the Spanish Gymnastics Federation (RFEG) requested via email the data it needed for the files and reports (current school, school year forecast for the next season, outstanding results and a photograph).

"I came to think that I had to put up with everything"

Franch boasted of having friends in the Federation and often reminded TP4 / 17 that the scholarship had not yet been signed, that without his signature and approval it would not be awarded.

"He told me that Jesús


Carballo [removed from the national team since February 2013 for abusing minor gymnasts] had told him that I was the first on that list of people proposed for the scholarship," he says.

“I held out there because gymnastics was still my passion and I wanted to be part of the Spanish team.

I saw him so close that he said: I can't leave him now, I have to continue.

I came to think that I had to put up with everything that had to be put up in order to get there, and that if I didn't put up with it I wasn't going to get there.

But there came a point that I said: I am here to do gymnastics, not to be abused.

I am not going to reach a selection and along the way they will abuse me to get there.

What I have to do is make an effort and if I have to have a bad time at gymnastics, I will pass it, but not because they are abusing me, "he says.

The control that Franch exercised over the gymnasts consisted of punishments and insults: he kicked the chairs and punched the lockers or the rack.

“Sometimes he had me going up and down the stairs for three hours, he had me running through the handball court.

He called us moron, asshole, if you're stupid I have to call you stupid, you are stupid.

He told me that I was worthless, that I was not going to achieve anything in life.

And without him we would not achieve anything ”, says the gymnast.

“I didn't realize that there was another way to do gymnastics until I entered the Centro de Tecnificación de Mallorca [2018-19 season].

There we could talk to the coaches about our blocks and the things that happened to us.

There were shouts if things didn't work out, but never an insult ”.

By then she had already had disappointment with the Spanish Gymnastics Federation and Lucia Guisado, the coach who had been following her since September 2014, as recorded in a letter sent to the Club on September 22 of that year and signed by the technical director. of the Julio Marcos Felipe Federation.

"We inform you that you have been selected to be part of the group of gymnasts in Monitoring of the RFEG for the excellent results obtained in the Spanish championship […] and for the physical and technical qualities that guarantee a future projection".

She attended mini concentrations that she organized at CAR while waiting to reach the age [14] to be awarded a scholarship.

“Lucia was very, very on top of me.

And it was something that I noticed and I tried three times if necessary because it was my dream at the time.

I remember a concentration in the CAR that fell on my birthday and Lucía gave me some training shoes.

He summoned me even after breaking my feet, even though I wasn't 100 percent, because he said I deserved to be there.

When the injury, he made the gymnasts of the team record a video of encouragement giving me strength to recover.

In a championship attended by the gymnasts of the national team in Betxí, he was surprised to see me in the queue to ask Ray Zapata for an autograph ”, recalls TP4 / 17.

Lucía Guisado's list

He never got into the CAR.

Guisado confirmed in court that the Betxì gymnast was included in a list drawn up by her, but that awarding the scholarship did not correspond to her.

"I simply make the proposal to the CSD and they make the concession."

Actually, the CSD only fixes the maximum number of seats, not the names.

Those are chosen by the coach and the technical staff of the Federation: TP4 / 17 was not finally chosen.

In the Guisado list, it was listed in position ten and the CSD granted nine places that season.

The gymnast's mother managed to get in touch with María José San Martín, secretary of the Federation, in August 2017. “She told me that my daughter was not on a scholarship, that the results had not been good and it had been a decision of the technicians for a limitation of places and that the reason was technical and not personal ”, recalls the mother now.

The results to which San Martín referred was 16th place in the Valladolid Spanish championship that was held a month after the complaint and after months and months of abuse.

TP4 / 17, who had two falls, had to prepare it by training in the Betxí football field because she and the other two minors who denounced Franch were separated from the club.

“I understand that his performance will decrease if the club's coach has had to leave [his license was taken away after the complaint];

whether or not she was psychologically and physically affected is not an easy situation.

I understand the poor performance ”, assured Guisado in the trial in which he testified as a witness.

“He never called to ask me or to give me support.

Nobody has done things the way they have to be done, nobody has used the protocols.

We have felt alone from the first moment ”, concludes TP4 / 17.

Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2021-01-23

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