Coach pulled off Hong Kong athlete’s underwear during massage and touched her, court hears
Alleged victim, now 23, says accused molested her in his home eight years ago
A Hong Kong athlete accused her coach in court on Wednesday of sexually assaulting her while giving her a massage at his home eight years ago.
But the defence noted that the alleged victim continued to train with, and bring gifts for, the coach. It questioned if her reporting the alleged offence had anything to do with improving her job prospects with publicity.
The 23-year-old woman, identified only as X at Fanling Court, said she went to her coach’s home upon his suggestion and agreed to take off her jeans after he complained of having difficulty massaging her legs one Saturday afternoon between September 2009 and April 8, 2010.
“I completely let my guard down towards him,” she said of her 77-year-old coach, while testifying behind a screen. “I didn’t think there was a problem, I didn’t think he would do anything to me.”
But X then recalled he suddenly suggested taking off her underwear and immediately pulled it off to touch her private parts.
“He circled [his palm], he circled it repeatedly,” she continued. “I could not react, I was very scared.”
The alleged assault lasted for about a minute.
Afterwards, X said, she was told to put on her trousers and was led downstairs to play with a neighbour’s dogs.
The alleged incident was never spoken of until X revealed it to a friend in 2015 and later told five others, including her family members and boyfriend, before she made a post about it on social media.
Asked why she decided to go public, X replied that she had been inspired by another victim’s report.
“I felt surprised to learn somebody else had been through my experience of having someone I respected very much using the trust I placed in him to do something he shouldn’t have,” she said.
The retired coach, named only by his initials, WH, to protect his accuser’s identity, denied the incident took place.
“Do you plead guilty to indecent assault?” Principal Magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung asked.
“No,” the coach replied.
Prosecutors had applied for X to testify behind a screen that would block her view not only of the press and the public but also of the defendant, after she indicated she would be scared to face her coach again.
But the magistrate rejected the application, noting that the defendant had the right to face his accuser.
During cross-examination, defence counsel Fu Chong-sang pointed out discrepancies between X’s previous and current accounts of who took off her jeans, and suggested she had lied about the alleged assault.
“I put it to you he never pulled off your panties,” Fu said.
“I disagree,” X replied.
Fu also noted X had never resisted or said anything to stop the alleged assault.
“You’ve learned sex education at school. There are TV advertisements. You could have said no,” the counsel pressed on.
“But there was no one at home,” X said. “No one would come to me even if I shouted for help.”
She also explained she was not sure what had happened.
“I just knew it was wrong,” she said.
Fu suggested X must have hated her coach had the incident occurred, and asked why she still gave him gifts, her social media posts still recorded their birthday celebrations, and they continued training together until 2015.
But X disagreed with the idea she hated him.
“I didn’t want to recollect the incident, so I pretended that it didn't happen,” she said. “But sometimes I couldn’t trust him.”
X also disagreed with suggestions that her publicity would affect the number of jobs she would get, or that her chances of a job at her alma mater, which she now has, would have been smaller if her coach were still teaching.
Her testimony was scheduled to continue on Thursday.