International

Haiti football federation boss probed for alleged rape of girls

2020-05-09 18:12
Soccer (File)
Soccer (File)

Police in Haiti are investigating allegations that the president of the national football federation raped teenage girls, the defendant said as he denied any wrongdoing.

"The only way to stop this scandal of all-out falsehoods," the football boss, Yves Jean-Bart, told AFP on Friday, "is precisely to look into it and bring out the truth."

The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported last week that teenage girls living at a soccer training facility outside Port-au-Prince were raped or sexually assaulted over the course of the past five years.

At least two minors underwent abortions after being raped by Jean-Bart, according to colleagues who said they too had been sexually assaulted and were pressured to keep quiet about it, the newspaper said.

Two women's advocacy groups, SOFA and Kay Fanm, issued a statement in support of the alleged victims.

"These girls are exposed to sexual predators and have no protection from the state or other officials," they said.

In one video that is circulating, the soccer boss is seen unabashedly touching a young girl inappropriately, they added.

In another one, seen by AFP, Jean-Bart is seen sitting next to a young female player on a sofa during an interview, with his hand on her shoulder throughout the seven-minute question and answer session.

Jean-Bart explained that this interview was taped more than three years ago at his request as the federation celebrated the fact that the girl in the footage had done a training session with Europe's top women's football team, Olympique Lyonnais, of France.

He said his touching of the girl was "an insignificant gesture done with fatherly affection."

"Only an athlete can understand this," said Jean-Bart.

Jean-Bart said a district attorney has asked him to appear in court on Thursday.

"All there is, is a big scandal but no victims, no complaint, no grounds, no report, no account of events," said Jean-Bart, who has run the football federation for 20 years.

Pascale Solages, a leading women's rights activist, said families of sexual assault victims in Haiti often keep quiet about these offenses because they fear reprisal if they speak out.

Read more on:    yves jean-bart  |  soccer

 

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