Athletics coach faces sexual harassment trial

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A Cypriot track and field coach accused of sexually abusing four former female athletes when underaged will stand trial on July 4, while Larnaca Criminal Court ordered he be placed in custody after harassing victims.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of sexually abusing a minor and other indecent assault charges.

Around 20 witnesses are listed to give evidence.

The case was filed in early 2021 when four female athletes came forward with accusations against the coach.

The police had then compiled evidence, with the Legal Services deciding to send the case to trial.

After the coach pleaded not guilty, the trial was postponed several times, and the suspect was released on bail, pending his trial.

The Larnaca Criminal Court on Wednesday ordered police to detain the suspect and keep him in custody until his trial after the suspect had called victims, violating his bail terms.

The accused appealed against the Criminal Court’s decision to detain him until his trial.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal dismissed it, agreeing with the trial court that it had correctly exercised its power to detain him after he breached the terms of his bail.

The Larnaca track and field coach case emerged in early 2021 following Olympic shooter Andri Eleftheriou outed a sports official for historical sexual abuse.

It triggered an avalanche of historical sexual abuse cases also involving a doctor, basketball coach, theatre director and the former Larnaca bishop that had surfaced.

Andri Eleftheriou’s case was dropped in 2021 after the Legal Services in Cyprus could not proceed because the events took place overseas at a time when the alleged crime of indecent assault was punishable by two years in prison.

The Criminal Court has jurisdiction over acts committed abroad by Cypriot citizens, provided the offences are punishable by more than two years in jail.

The alleged harassment occurred at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and in Peking in 2008 by the same man who held a “position of authority”.

Eleftheriou’s case encouraged women to come forward with reports against others exploiting their position of authority.

One such case was the former Larnaca Bishop Chrysostomos, convicted of sexually harassing a 16-year-old girl in 1981 at his office.

The Bishop was handed a suspended 12-month prison sentence, which he has appealed.