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New Delhi: Seven more women athletes have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against renowned sports coach P. Nagarajan, two months after a 19-year-old national-level athlete filed a complaint against him at Chennai police station, Indian Express reported.
All the complainants, some of whom are now in their 30s, alleged that Nagarajan abused them for several years, and even threatened to stop their training and end their careers. The complainants trained under him as junior athletes and some of them were abused when they were minors.
Deputy commissioner of police S. Maheshwaran told the newspaper that Nagarajan sexually abused the 19-year-old woman from 2013 to 2020. She came forward after the police identified her following a tweet by political analyst and sports commentator T.N. Raghu on May 26, carrying anonymous testimonies of alleged victims. He added that the police has received seven additional complaints of similar nature against Nagarajan.
According to the report, the police statement which gave details of her complaint said, “The complainant along with other girls has been training under Nagarajan since 2013. On many occasions, after the day’s training, he would send off the other girls, lure her into a small room, and under the pretext of providing physiotherapy, would touch her inappropriately. Despite her pleading and resisting, he stated that he would help her succeed in athletics only if she cooperated. The same has happened with other girls as well.”
Also read: The Scars of Male Child Sexual Abuse
The statement further said that he threatened her that she would not be given entry into competitions, if she resisted. He also warned he would kill her and her family. Owing to the mental stress, she didn’t mention the sexual harassment to anyone and eventually moved to another coach.
After police publicised the mobile number and email address of the investigating officer in the case, many other complainants came forward.
One of the seven complainants told the Indian Express that Nagarajan started sexually abusing her at the age of 13 and this went on for nearly seven years. It impacted her mental health as she became suicidal and had frequent nervous breakdowns, she told the daily.
“When I was in 8th grade, Nagarajan said he wanted to improve my long jump technique. He asked me to come an hour before everyone. So if everybody got there at 4 pm, I would reach at 3. He would say at around 4 o’clock to act as if I am just walking in. It sort of struck me like I am getting special training and that he doesn’t want others to know because they are going to be upset. I was still part of a team and I didn’t want to lose my friends over this. So that was the set-up,” she told the newspaper.
The abuse began during one such session, she alleged. “I didn’t know what to make of it, I was ashamed, shocked. I could not even process it. Now I am in my 30s but I am trying to analyse my 13-year-old self… it continued all the way through till 12th grade,” she told Indian Express. She was allegedly sexually harassed when the team travelled to Bangalore, she further said.
On the final day before she joined another club, she confronted him. She said he asked for her forgiveness.
She thought she had put it all behind, she told the daily. However, she said she heard other stories of abuse by Nagarajan at the new club.
After the first complaint against the 59-year-old Nagarajan on May 28, he had allegedly attempted suicide by consuming sleeping pills. He was soon arrested under the IPC and POCSO Act after his discharge from hospital.
The news report added that police have also invoked the Goondas Act against Nagarajan.
H. Jayalakshmi, the deputy commissioner of police, special wing for crimes against women and children, told the daily: “Each and every complaint has been revealing the predatory nature of the accused.”
The Indian Express reached out to Nagarajan’s wife Grace Helina, who refused to comment the allegations.