Short Track Speed Skater Accuses Ex-Coach of Sexual Assault

Taylor Reese, Jan. 9, 2019, 9:24 a.m.


Olympic short track speed skating champion Shim Suk-hee has accused her former coach of sexually assaulting her since she was 17.

Shim filed a complaint with police in Gyeonggi Province on Dec. 17 last year against Cho Jae-beom (38) for raping and sexually molesting her multiple times. Police have seized Cho's mobile phone and tablet PC for analysis.

Shim's lawyer, Im Sang-hyuk said, "Following an in-depth, one-on-one interview with Shim by a female attorney, we heard testimony that the coach repeatedly committed sexual assault involving beatings, verbal abuse and threats."

Shim has cut off contact with the media but sent a statement through her lawyers saying, "I sincerely hope that similar incidents never happen in Korean sports in the future."

Earlier Shim accused Cho of years of violent abuse from fourth grade up until last year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Cho is already serving a jail sentence for assault.

The new charges allege that the sexual assaults took place in the coaches' locker room at the Korea National Sport University ice rink, as well as locker rooms at the national training centers in Taeneung, Seoul and Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province.

Shim said she kept the sexual assaults a secret because her coach threatened to end her sport career. She said the coach "coerced me into complete submission and threatened me, and I was too afraid to tell the truth even to my family out of fear of having my career end. But I mustered the courage and decided to speak out about the sexual assaults because I felt there were more victims like myself."

Shim was catapulted into the spotlight when, still a junior in high school, she won three medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Cho's history of assault came to light when Shim bolted from athletes' training camp in January last year with just three weeks left until the Pyeongchang Olympics, though she later returned. The Korean Skating Union sacked Cho the same month.

Last September, the Suwon District Court sentenced Cho to 10 months behind bars for the assault, but he appealed. Shim did not testify at first instance but appeared in an appellate court last month.

A lawyer for the ex-coach denied the sexual assault charges. 

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