“Carballo destroyed my life after he sexually assaulted me”

National gymnastics team’s former coach faces abuse accusations from former charge

Former national gymnastics coach Jesús Carballo.
Former national gymnastics coach Jesús Carballo.MIGUELEZ (CORDON PRESS)

A former coach of Spain's national gymnastics team has been accused by an ex-teammate of sexual harassment and abuse when she was between the ages of 12-15, according to a police report obtained by EL PAÍS.

The victim, who is now 48 and wants to remain anonymous because of family reasons, said that coach Jesús Carballo, now 69, abused her during the 1970s and 1980s. "Carballo destroyed my life after he sexually assaulted me," the woman told EL PÁIS in an interview. "I am still feeling the effects today."

Through his lawyer, Carballo denied all the allegations.

A court ruled that the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes has expired, but the victim has appealed that decision with the Madrid regional High Court. The government's Higher Sports Council (CSD) has also sided with the woman in her appeal.

"He kept saying that he was like my father, and the fact is I spent more time with him than with my own family," she said. "I had mixed emotions. On one side I admired and loved him, but at the same time I felt obligated to withstand the things that he did."

According to the police inquiry, two gymnasts in the 1980s had complained to the federation, but nothing ever came of the investigation.

The police have collated at least 14 statements from people who recall "humiliating episodes" in which the coach also reportedly hurled insults at the team. But they have not found "sufficient evidence" to accuse Carballo of abusing other victims. The CSD restricted Carballo from training facilities last January after the complaint was filed.

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