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(LEAD) Police investigating fresh sexual assault charges against ex-skating coach

All Headlines 16:56 January 09, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS ex-coach's denial, skater's reaction in paras 9-15)

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)

Through his attorney, Cho denied he had sexually assaulted Shim.

Cho's legal representative said the former coach was "flabbergasted" that Shim had raised such allegations.

Shim accused Cho of assaulting her in the locker rooms at the national training centers in Seoul and in Jincheon, about 90 kilometers south of the capital. But Cho told his lawyer that no sexual misconduct could have taken place in those facilities because they're easily accessible to coaches and athletes.

Shim's attorney, Lim Sang-hyuk, said the athlete decided to step forward so that there won't be more victims in the future.

"Cho has been making ludicrous excuses that he beat up on athletes to make them more competitive," Lim said. "And Shim Suk-hee felt someone with that kind of a mindset could keep doing the same things."

Lim said Shim is still very much in shock and has nightmares on a nightly basis, but she worked up her courage after receiving a letter from a fan saying that she was inspired by Shim's performance at the Olympics in the aftermath of Cho's assault.

Lim added that the sports ministry and the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee should get the lion's share of blame for their lack of oversight.

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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