A former coach of the Brazilian artistic gymnastics team has been sentenced to 108 years and eight months in prison for raping four of his students, at least one of them a minor.
The events occurred in the Clube Mesc de São Bernardo do Campo, a city on the outskirts of São Paulo.
The convicted person, Fernando de Carvalho Lopes, can appeal the decision of the court of first instance and, pending the resolution of the appeal, he may remain free.
The great scourge of child abuse in sport
The judge pointed out that the former technician took advantage of the authority he exercised over his students to commit the violations "over a long period of time," according to the order cited by Globo.
The "seriousness" and "atrocity" of these acts, the judge points out, merit the hefty sentence, which must be served in a closed regime at first.
The judge only accepted the complaint of four of the victims for processing, despite the existence of more complaints, but summoned others as witnesses.
The first complaint against Lopes was filed in 2016, according to Globo.
A 13-year-old gymnast told his parents that he had been subjected to abuse by the coach.
In his testimony before the Police, the minor accused Lopes of touching his genitals "frequently."
A month before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian sports authorities decided to remove Lopes from the national team.
The case, however, went unnoticed and had little progress in the judicial field until in 2018 a weekly news program on the Globo network, Fantástico, revealed that 42 gymnasts accused Lopes of having sexually abused them between 1999 and 2016. The starting point of the investigation was a comment on Facebook by one of the victims, Petrix Barbosa, a gold medalist at the South American Games held in Guadalajara in 2011.
Barbosa told Globo how Lopes got into his bed to touch his private parts.
“What he did the most with me was trying to annoy me all day, that hot flash, that psychological prison against a 10-year-old boy.
Bathing together, spying on me, sleeping in bed with me when I didn't want to.
I don't know how many times I woke up with his hand in my pants.
I managed to take it off, but there were others who did not dare to react the same as me.
At the age of 13, Barbosa left Clube Mesc to train elsewhere.
The judicial decision against Lopes coincides with developments in another Brazilian sports scandal.
The Italian authorities have officially requested the extradition of soccer player Robinho, sentenced to nine years in prison for having participated in the gang rape of a woman in a Milan nightclub in 2013. It is unlikely that the request will be fulfilled because Brazil does not extradite his citizens.
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