French tennis coach convicted of raping players

A former tennis coach in France was convicted and sentenced to
eight years in prison Friday for raping young students at his
academy, ending a seven-year legal case that began when a former
ranked player published a book describing years of abuse at his
hands.

The court in Lyon also barred 70-year-old Regis de Camaret from
working in tennis for life.

The case against Camaret began in 2005 with accusations from
former ranked player Isabelle Demongeot, who wrote a book
describing years of abuse. Several other women later came forward
with accusations that Camaret raped or sexually abused them when
they trained in the 1980s and 1990s. The statute of limitations had
run out for most of the accusers, but he was tried based on
complaints by two former players.

Camaret has denied all the accusations against him, insisting
that the atmosphere at his academy was ”conducive to flings,” the
Sipa news agency reported. Former No. 3-ranked player Nathalie
Tauziat testified on his behalf at the trial.

Tears flowed among some former trainees after the verdict came
down.

”Well, finally, tonight, he’s in prison,” said an emotional
Isabelle Demongeot, who was once ranked No. 2 within France, and
whose case was beyond the statute of limitations. ”We are all very
moved, and drained.”

Karine Pomares and Stephanie Carrouget – the two civil parties
to the state’s case and who testified – exchanged long hugs,
crying.

“We didn’t let it all out for nothing,” Carrouget said,
according to Sipa. The Associated Press doesn’t generally identify
accusers in sexual assault cases unless they agree to be named or
identify themselves publicly.

Defense lawyer Emmanuel Daoud said that the case amounted to ”a
trial by proxy” and argued that critics had wanted Camaret to pay
for crimes beyond the statute of limitations: ”I don’t call that
justice.”

However, Daoud never rejected the accusations filed against his
client, saying to Camaret – who cried repeatedly – during the
proceedings: ”Regis, you failed your moral obligations.”

The court showed clemency compared to the prosecutors’ request
for a 10- to 12-year prison sentence. The defense team wanted the
case dismissed, arguing that Camaret should be given the benefit of
the doubt. Investigating judges had initially tried to throw out
the case for a lack of evidence – before state prosecutors appealed
that decision.