Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Gym coach questioned in underage rape probe

‘I FELT DEAD’:One of his accusers said that he abused her and other 12 or 13-year-old schoolgirls after luring them into his hotel room while on competition tours

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday summoned a school teacher, Liang Mei-tsung (梁梅宗), for questioning in connection with a probe into allegations of raping underage girls. After questioning, he was released after posting NT$300,000 bail.

A woman, surnamed Yeh (葉), recently wrote to the Kaohsiung Bureau of Education, accusing Liang, a trainer specializing in gymnastics, of raping her and other schoolgirls over a 10-year period, from 1996 to 2006.

Yeh said Liang ran the gymnastics teams of several schools in Kaohsiung and forced the girls under his charge to have sex with him.

According to reports, there could be up to eight alleged victims, and most of them were only12 or 13 at the time. All of them are adults now, and one has presented documents that show she filed a sexual assault report against Liang in 2003.

Yeh, who is now in her late 20s and studying in the US, wrote that she decided to tell her story and inform the authorities, after reading about USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually abused more than 200 women, and learning about the #MeToo movement on social media.

“There are other victims on our gymnastics team; they are still suffering and living in pain,” Yeh said, “So I want to help free them from this nightmare, to reveal this man’s diabolical ways and to make sure he receives the punishment he deserves.”

Kaohsiung Chief Prosecutor Ko Kung-hui (葛光輝) said that the investigation team is gathering evidence and has contacted a second alleged victim, who made similar accusations.

Liang taught gymnastics for more than 27 years and was a trainer at the school in question from 1991 until recently, when he was suspended, according to reports.

Liang received awards for “outstanding gymnastics coach,” and his teams won titles and gold medals in national gymnastics competitions.

Investigators said that Liang denied any wrongdoing, and when questioned about the rape claims, said: “It was a long time ago. I cannot recall the details.”

Yeh said she was first raped by Liang when she was in the fifth grade.

“I respected him as a coach, and regarded him as a father figure ... but he took away my virginity and trampled on my dignity to make me feel worthless,” she said in an online post over the weekend.

Her gymnastics team was made up of female students from elementary and junior-high schools, Yeh said, adding that when they stayed in hotels for competitions in other cities, Liang would call on her or other girls to go into his room at night with the pretext of providing instruction or giving them massages to relax.

“He said wanted to help me relax before the next day’s competition and called me into his room to take a dip in the bathtub. After 10 minutes, he walked in completely naked and touched my neck, then hugged me,” Yeh wrote. “Then he told me: ‘I will love you and take good care of you. It is the same for your teammates — they have also done this...’ Then that night in his room, I lost my virginity.”

Yeh wrote that Liang raped her several times after that — in gymnasium rooms, in motels and at his residence.

“He entered into my body many more times. I felt as though I was dead, then only became alive again when the sex was over,” she said.

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