EPL: Schoolgirl basketball coach charged with sex offenses involving minors

Sexual abuse allegations have again rocked the world of Estonian sport, this time surrounding a girls' school basketball team, whose coach is charged with sexual offenses, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports.

The coach, Marek Koitla, is long-term basketball coach and PE teacher at Tallinn's Jakob Westholm upper secondary school.

Prosecutor Arika Almann told EPL (link in Estonian) that: "I can confirm that a criminal case has been initiated against Marek Koitla, who stands accused under sections 143 (2) and 179 (1) of the Penal Code."

The procedures are closed, in order to protect the victim's privacy.

EPL reported that in 2015, students had made a parody video for teacher's day which suggested that the case may not have emerged completely out of the blue. In it, one student played Koitla and, in character, was depicted emerging from the girls' changing rooms then slapping a passing girl character on the bottom, EPL says.

The case follows media reports surrounding a coach at top-flight football club Nõmme Kalju which alleged the coach, a Brazilian national, had engaged in sexual activity with a girl or girls as young as 14. While the age of consent in Estonia is 14, the alleged victims would still be minors, while the age of the coach –  Getulio Aurelio Fredo, now 66, – was a factor in that he was nearly four decades older at the time the alleged offenses began, in 2007. That case is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

A second case concerning a second-tier football team in the town of Elva has since come to light in the media.

Section 143 (2) of the penal code deals with sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with a minor (i.e. under 18) where the perpetrator occupies a position of trust or influence, while section 179 (1) states that: "Handing over, displaying or making otherwise pornographic works or reproductions thereof knowingly available to a person of less than fourteen years of age, or showing sexual abuse to such person or engaging in sexual intercourse in the presence of such person or knowingly sexually enticing such person in any other manner is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or up to three years' imprisonment."

Keio Kuhi, head of the basketball association (Korvpalliliit) says the organization had no knowledge of any allegations until now.

"We conduct background checks into individuals applying to become team coaches. Koitla has not been one of these coaches [with any allegations, offences etc. to his name] in recent years," Kuhi told EPL.

Nõmme Kalju and Elva FC have similarly denied knowledge of any allegations against their coaches, prior to the stories appearing in the media.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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