independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Former tennis coach jailed for rape

Former ranked tennis player Isabelle Demongeot leaves the Lyon's courthouse in central France (AP/Laurent Cipriani)

A former tennis coach in France has been sentenced to eight years in prison for raping young students at his academy, ending a seven-year legal case that began when a former ranked player published a book describing years of abuse at his hands.

The court in Lyon also barred 70-year-old Regis de Camaret from working in tennis for life.

The case against Camaret began in 2005 with accusations from former player Isabelle Demongeot, who wrote a book describing years of abuse. Several other women later came forward with accusations that Camaret raped or sexually abused them when they trained in the 1980s and 1990s.

The statute of limitations had run out for most of the accusers, but he was tried based on complaints by two former players.

Camaret denied all the accusations against him, insisting that the atmosphere at his academy was "conducive to flings," the Sipa news agency reported.

Former number three ranked player Nathalie Tauziat testified on his behalf at the trial.

Tears flowed among some former trainees after the verdict came down. "Well, finally, tonight, he's in prison," said an emotional Isabelle Demongeot, who was once ranked number two within France, and whose case was beyond the statute of limitations. "We are all very moved, and drained."

Defence lawyer Emmanuel Daoud said that the case amounted to "a trial by proxy" and argued that critics had wanted Camaret to pay for crimes beyond the statute of limitations: "I don't call that justice."

However, Mr Daoud never rejected the accusations filed against his client, saying to Camaret - who cried repeatedly - during the proceedings: "Regis, you failed your moral obligations."

The court showed clemency compared to the prosecutors' request for a 10 to 12-year prison sentence. The defence team wanted the case dismissed, arguing that Camaret should be given the benefit of the doubt. Investigating judges had initially tried to throw out the case for a lack of evidence before state prosecutors appealed against that decision.

Press Association

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