Gilles Beyer Charged with Sexual Assault

Paris, Jan 8 (AFP/APP): A former elite French figure skating coach, Gilles Beyer, has been charged with sexual assault following accusations from at least six women skaters or former skaters, according to a judicial source.

Beyer is at the centre of a scandal that convulsed the sport in France last year after a former world championships medallist, Sarah Abitbol, made accusations against him in a book. Abitbol accused Beyer, her coach, of repeatedly sexually assaulting her when she was aged between 15 and 17 in the early 1990s.

Her book led to several other skaters coming forward. In a statement to AFP in January last year, Beyer admitted having an “intimate relationship” with Abitbol, which he said was “inappropriate”.He offered his “apologies”.

Following these revelations, the Paris public prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation in early February into “rape and sexual assault of minors by a person in authority”, aimed, in particular, at verifying other potential victims.

Among former skaters who came forward in the wake of Abitbol’s book, “Un Si Long Silence”, were Helene Godard, Laure Detante and Najma Mahamoud, the French junior champion in 2014.

They all accused Beyer in the press. Beyer was taken into police custody on Wednesday morning but released Friday when he was charged by the Paris public prosecutor’s office with “sexual assault by a person in authority and sexual harassment by a person in authority.”

Contacted by AFP on Friday, Beyer’s lawyer, Thibault de Montbrial, refused to comment.

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