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Durban - An Olympic coach from Durban has been jailed for almost three years by a German court for having sex with a 13-year-old Durban girl in that country.
The coach, 42, originally from Durban, also admitted doing so with the teen, whom he was training, several times in South Africa.
According to a news report in the Darmstädter Echo, the coach entered a plea bargain with prosecutors and received a term of two years and 11 months.
He was also ordered to pay damages of l5 000 (R56 400) to the victim’s family.
The coach’s name had been withheld to protect the identity of the girl.
“After the incriminating evidence of the girl on Monday, the accused offered a confession if it would be taken into consideration in the judgment (sentence),” the paper reported.
After more than an hour of negotiation between the court, the State and the advocates, the coach’s lawyer, Andreas Sander, confirmed that his client had had sex with her.
“He explained that the girl was totally innocent. The accused, who had worked as a cycling coach in South Africa, had trained the victim there until he moved to Germany.”
The coach was arrested in Durban on April 24 after being persuaded to return to South Africa by the victim’s father, who had been in contact with the coach’s wife.
The coach, who had been training a German cycling team for the Olympics in London, had been under the impression that his trip to Durban was to apologise to the girl and her family; and to sign a non-disclosure agreement before he would fly back to Europe.
But he was arrested at King Shaka International Airport, held for some days and granted bail.
He was arrested soon after his return to Germany in May.
Last week, it emerged that he had lied to his bosses about the abuse allegations, when they found an e-mail on the company server linking him to the crime.
His German trial began last week, but the coach had refused to give evidence directly, and chose to only make statements to his lawyer, a spokeswoman for the court said.
The Darmstädter Echo reported that the man, based in Weiterstadt, appeared in the Darmstadt court this week and was found guilty of child abuse on Wednesday.
The court heard the coach persuaded the teen to have sex with him in a Weiterstadt hotel.
The report said that the presiding judge, Jens Assling, found that the victim was childlike even at the present age of 15.
The judge asked: “How could you enter into a relationship with her two years ago?”
The accused had replied that an emotional relationship had developed in South Africa and that his feelings for her overwhelmed him more and more.
“He even e-mailed the girl to tell her that he would leave his wife,” the report stated. “He then asked the girl to exchange intimate photos with him. This evidence was later found by the German police on his computers.”
According to the newspaper, it had emerged during the five-hour cross-examination of the girl that the relationship between her and the accused had gone on for a long time.
She had said that she had taken part in the relationship of her own free will, because she had fallen in love with the coach. “Assling added that she had also declared that there had been no force or psychological duress,” the report said.
The paper reported that the girl wanted to break off the relationship at the beginning of this year.
“Only then did the accused start putting pressure on her. When it became apparent that she was no longer interested in continuing the relationship, the accused threatened to publish the photographs.
“Out of fear that intimate photos of her would surface on the internet, she had told her parents.”
The report said that with the coach’s move to Germany the relationship ended, until the girl took part in a European championship and visited her godmother in Bischofsheim (in the same district).
“He fetched her there in August 2011 to take her to the airport. He, however, drove her to a hotel first to have sex with her.”
It said that the accused had taken advantage of the strong feelings on the part of the girl to satisfy his sexual needs.
Prosecutor Christina König had asked for a jail term of three years and four months, because she found that the accused had taken advantage of his position as coach.
Sander had asked for less than three years and reminded the court of his client’s confession.
A concurrent civil suit against the coach continued after the sentence was handed down.
The victim’s father declined yesterday to comment on the case, citing the trauma his daughter had just endured by testifying against her abuser.
The coach was expected to appear in a Durban court next year to face allegations of rape and sexual assault of a child, grooming a child for the purposes of sexual assault, as well as possessing and distributing child pornography.
This follows his court appearances in April.
But the prison term in Germany is likely to impact on the proceedings in Durban. - Daily News