Brazilian Gymnasts Accuse Former National Coach of Sexual Abuse
Dozens of Brazilian gymnasts have come out against their former coach, Fernando de Carvalho Lopes, for sexual abuse.
On Monday, de Carvalho Lopes was fired from Clube MESC, a community center where he worked as a national team coach.
So far 42 gymnasts claim that they experienced a wide range of sexual abuse at the hands of Lopez when they were minors. The athletes say that Lopes watched them shower, touched their genitals, and asked them to masturbate in front of him.
Petrix Barbosa, gold medalist in the all-round team event at the Pan American Games in 2011, told Globo News that he was abused by the former coach. Barbosa says that the abuse started when he was as young as 10-years-old.
“I don’t know how many times I woke up with his hand inside my trousers,” said Barbosa.
According to Reuters, Lopes claims the allegations to be false.
Police have confirmed that an investigation has been opened, though the case is currently sealed.
“When it comes to these kind of accusations I don’t have anything to say,” Lopes said. “I think they are going to have to prove it.”
Lopes was removed from the national team prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics after it was found that he sexually abused two boys, aged 12 and 13.
The scandal closely follows the case of Larry Nassar, the former doctor of the USA Gymnastics team, who was sentenced up to 300 years in prison for abusing more than 250 young female gymnasts entrusted to his care.
Another case in Brazil involved a swimmer named Joanna Maranhao, a four-time Olympian, who alleged she was sexually abused by another coach when she was just 9-years-old. Her own case was never prosecuted due to the statute of limitations, but she hopes that justice will be doled out for these 42 gymnasts.
“This man, I really hope he pays for the crimes he committed,” Maranhao said, referring to Lopes.