A former judoka claimed on Monday she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a former coach, joining a prominent skater in calling out the actions of an alleged perpetrator.
Shin Yu-yong, 24, sat down with Yonhap News Agency at a Seoul cafe Monday afternoon, hours after an interview with the vernacular Hankyoreh newspaper was published that sent shock waves throughout the sports community.
In it, Shin accused her high school coach of sexually assaulting her on about 20 occasions from summer 2011 to 2015, a year after her high school graduation.
Shin claimed the coach, a married man whose identity was withheld, once took her to an OB-GYN clinic for a pregnancy test.
When the coach's wife became suspicious of his relationship with Shin last year, he offered Shin 500,000 won ($447) in cash to keep her quiet, the former athlete claimed.
Shin filed a complaint with Seoul police in March last year at the height of the "Me Too" movement and made her claims on her Facebook page last November, though they didn't garner any attention at the time.
Shin told Yonhap that although it was difficult for her to step forward, she wanted to inspire and encourage other victims of sexual assault in sports.
Shin said the first incident happened during her first year in high school. The coach forcibly kissed her once while the team was at out-of-town training camp, and after they returned to school, the coach assaulted her in the male teachers' dormitory.
"I was doing laundry and running errands for coaches at the time, and he called me to his room earlier than usual one day and assaulted me for the first time," Shin said. "I graduated in February 2014 but he continued to call me until 2015."
Shin said she couldn't tell anyone about the situation for a year because she felt her competitive career would be over once word got out and she didn't think anyone would be able to help her anyway.
Shin later decided to share the story with a female assistant coach and her friend on the team. Shin said she asked them to testify on her behalf last year but they refused.
"The assistant coach told me she couldn't do it because she was still in the sport," Shin said. "And I couldn't reach the friend on the day we were supposed to meet. I think she felt she would suffer consequences if she spoke up about it. She's still competing. I was angry at the time but I can understand her a little bit now."
Shin said her goal was to compete in the Olympics and other international events. Instead, she quit judo during her final year in high school because of effects from sexual assaults.
"People around me think that I retired after hurting my knee in 2012, but I could have returned if I wanted," Shin said. "The injury was an excuse. I felt so ashamed of myself, and I thought word about the assaults would get around."
Shin said the judo community became aware of her situation before she went public with it. She'd hoped her family would be the last to find out. Before Shin filed her complaint, the wife of the ex-coach called Shin's older brother to tell him what had happened, the former athlete said.
"If there had been a system in place where I could have talked about my situation, I would have sought help," Shin said. "During my athletic career, I never once received any training on preventing sexual assault."
Asked if she had any message to victims suffering in silence, Shin said, "I know it's difficult for active athletes to come forward, but I hope they'll work up the courage."
When reached by Hankyoreh, the ex-coach denied sexual assault allegations, saying he was romantically involved with Shin and had an on-again, off-again relationship with her.
In response to these allegations, the Korea Judo Association said it will discuss possible punishments for the ex-coach in question in its board meeting Saturday.
The KJA said in a statement that it was aware of Shin's situation when she posted her Facebook message last year.
|Shin's Facebook post (Yonhap)|
"Whether or not the former coach is actually guilty, we feel there's a serious problem with his having had inappropriate relations with a minor," the association added.
Shin's interview was published six days after allegations by Shim Suk-hee, two-time Olympic short track champion, that she was sexually assaulted by her former coach Cho Jae-beom were first reported.
Cho is already serving a 10-month prison term for physically assaulting Shim and other athletes. Shim testified against Cho in court on Dec. 19, and TV station SBS reported last Tuesday that Shim also filed a complaint over Cho's alleged sexual assault on the same day.
Shin thanked Shim for inspiring her to speak up, saying it must have been difficult for the skater to step forward because she's still competing. (Yonhap)