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Police investigating fresh sexual assault charges against ex-skating coach

All Headlines 13:24 January 09, 2019

SUWON, South Korea, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- Police said Wednesday they're looking into a possible connection between an earlier battery conviction and recent sexual assault allegations against a former national short track speed skating coach.

Cho Jae-beom is currently serving a 10-month sentence for physically assaulting Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee and three other skaters between 2011 and January 2018.

In this file photo from Dec. 17, 2018, South Korean short track speed skater Shim Suk-hee leaves the Suwon District Court in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul, after testifying against her former coach Cho Jae-beom in his assault trial. (Yonhap)

Cho, who received the jail term in September, is appealing the decision, and Shim testified against him in court during an appeals trial on Dec. 17 last year.

According to police in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul, the 21-year-old Shim filed a complaint against Cho on that same day, accusing him of sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions since 2014, when she was a high school sophomore.

Police officials said Shim charged Cho with sexually assaulting her right after kicking and punching her in one particular incident before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last February.

The battery case came to light in mid-January 2018, just weeks before the Olympics, when Shim left the national team training facility, apparently to avoid further assaults by Cho.

"Sexual assaults typically occur after physical attacks or threats," one police official said. "There's a strong possibility that that was the case here, so we'll look for any link."

Police said they have spoken with Shim on two occasions since she raised the allegations last month. They will now examine Cho's mobile phones and tablet PC, and will also interrogate Cho in jail in the near future.

Meanwhile, the court is expected to rule on Cho's appeal of his earlier conviction next Monday as scheduled.

Shim is a two-time Olympian with four medals -- two gold, one silver and one bronze -- to her credit. Skating just weeks after the alleged assault, Shim helped South Korea to the gold in the women's 3,000-meter relay. It was her second consecutive gold in the relay event.

In this file photo from Sept. 12, 2018, Cho Jae-beom, former coach of the South Korean national short track speed skating team, enters the Seongnam branch of the Suwon District Court in Seongnam, south of Seoul, for a hearing over charges that he assaulted athletes. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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