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Brazil Gymnastics Coach Calls Sex Abuse Claims 'A Conspiracy'

  • Fernando de Carvalho Lopes (L), who trained Olympic silver medalist Diego Hypolito (R), has denied sexual assault.

    Fernando de Carvalho Lopes (L), who trained Olympic silver medalist Diego Hypolito (R), has denied sexual assault. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 May 2018

The investigation has been in the hands of Sao Paolo's Public Ministry for two years, when the first complaints against the coach emerged.

Brazil's Fernando de Carvalho Lopes, who trained one-time floor world gymnastics champion and Olympic silver medalist Diego Hypolito, has denied the more than 40 allegations of sexual assault filed against him before a Senate commission, claiming he's the "victim" of a conspiracy.

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"I am quite blunt during the training; I say bad words and even slurs, but I have never abused anyone," he told the commission investigating abuse in sports.

Carvalho Lopes argued that those complaints were part of a larger "revenge," although he could not explain the motives.

The commission suspended his right to privacy in taxes and communications for the purposes of the investigation.

Carvalho Lopes is accused of sexually abusing dozens of young male gymnasts while training them at his club near Sao Paulo over the past two decades. 

He was removed as national coach just a month before Brazil hosted the 2016 Olympics, after he was accused of abusing two boys aged 12 and 13, according to Brazil's TV Globo. The network spoke with the boys' parents, who confirmed the allegations, as well as with 40 current or former gymnasts who said they had been abused by Lopes.  

Hypolito told TV Globo he had no problems with the coach, but former teammate Petrix Barbosa, winner of a gold medal in the all-round team event at the Pan American Games in 2011, said he was abused.

The scandal follows the sentencing of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar to up to 300 years in prison for abusing more than 250 young female gymnasts entrusted to his care.

On Wednesday, Nassar's victims tentatively agreed to a US$500 million settlement with Michigan State University, Nassar's former employer, said attorneys for both sides.

The deal calls for the school to pay US$425 million to the 332 victims represented in current litigation, with another US$75 million set aside in a trust fund that could go to future plaintiffs who allege they were abused by Nassar, the attorneys said in a joint statement.

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