Former coach of Hong Kong hurdler arrested for sexual assault

PHOTO: AFP

Hong Kong - The former coach of champion Hong Kong hurdler Vera Lui Lai-yiu has been arrested after he was accused of sexually assaulting the athlete when she was a teenager.

The suspect was detained two months after Lui became the first high-profile woman in socially conservative Hong Kong to speak out against abuse as part of the #MeToo movement exposing sexual misconduct.

In an open letter posted on Facebook on her 23rd birthday in November, she accused her former coach of sexually assaulting her when she was a schoolgirl, prompting the city's leader Carrie Lam to ask police to investigate.

A 76-year-old man was arrested for "indecent assault" Sunday but has since been released on bail, police confirmed to AFP. Police declined to name him.

The #MeToo campaign spread rapidly in October after multiple accusations against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and has since shaken artistic, media and political circles globally.

Lui said she was inspired to speak out by American Olympic gold-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney, one of a number of women who accused former USA Gymnastic team doctor Lawrence Nassar of abusing them.

Nassar was last week sentenced to 40 to 175 years in jail for criminal sexual conduct.

US gymnastics team doctor pleads guilty to molesting dozens of girls

  • Disgraced long-time USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for abusing young female gymnasts who were entrusted to his care.
  • "I've signed your death warrant," Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar, following days of accounts from about 160 of his victims.
  • Spectators and victims cried, applauded and embraced as Nassar, 54, wearing a dark blue jailhouse jumpsuit, was led out of the courtroom.
  • Nassar, who served as the programme's physician through four Olympic Games, apologised to his victims during the hearing, telling them, "I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days."
  • One of the victims of USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar, who pleaded guilty to molesting dozens of girls, blamed the disgraced doctor for her father's suicide.
  • Kyle Stephens, said the doctor, a family friend, began molesting her when she was 6 years old and her parents did not blieve her when she told them.
  • Stephens was the first of nearly 100 women who are expected to provide victim-impact statements during the four-day hearing.
  • Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for the 54-year-old Nassar, who served as the USA Gymnastics physician through four Olympic Games.
  • Donna Markham, the mother of Chelsea Markham, testified her daughter was molested by Nassar. Chelsea never recovered from the abuse and it led her to a life of drugs, culminating with her in suicide in 2009 at age 23

Lui had previously recalled how she thought nothing of it when the coach offered her a massage at his home to relax her muscles, but that he then removed her clothes and molested her.

She did not identify the perpetrator but the school attended by Lui at the time said they had immediately stopped working with the accused coach after she told them of her intention to publicise the incident.

Lui - who took the gold medal in the 60-metre women's hurdles at the Asian Indoor Games in September - said she decided to speak out a decade later in hopes of breaking the taboo around the subject in Chinese culture and encouraging other victims of sexual abuse to seek help.

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