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‘Coach abused me when I was 13’: Seven women athletes accuse Tamil Nadu coach P Nagarajan of sexual harassment during training

After a 19-year-old first complained about alleged sexual harassment, Nagarajan had allegedly attempted to commit suicide by consuming sleeping pills. However, he survived after he was admitted to a hospital.

Two months after a 19-year-old national-level athlete accused Tamil Nadu coach P Nagarajan of sexual abuse, seven more women athletes have made similar allegations against their former coach, reports Indian Express.

According to reports, seven women athletes, who once trained under Tamil Nadu-based athletics coach P Nagarajan, have come forward to reveal that their former coach sexually abused them during training sessions in the past. These women athletes, some of them are international-level sportswomen, have said that the abuse by Nagarajan is not a new one as it has been going on for years.

The first allegation had come from a 19-year-old athlete, which was put out in a tweet by political analyst and sports commentator TN Raghu on May 26. Raghu, who carried anonymous testimonies of alleged victims, tagged Chief Minister MK Stalin in the post.

After a 19-year-old first complained about alleged sexual harassment, Nagarajan had allegedly attempted to commit suicide by consuming sleeping pills. However, he survived after he was admitted to a hospital. Later, he was arrested and charged under the IPC and POCSO Act.

Sexual harassment cases goes back as far as 2005, says TN police

Following the testimonies, Deputy Commissioner of Police S Maheshwaran had confirmed that the earlies incident of abuse dated back to 2005 and said that they had received seven additional complaints of similar nature against Nagarajan.

H Jayalakshmi, DyCP, Special Wing for Crimes Against Women and Children, said, “Each and every complaint has been revealing the predatory nature of the accused”.

Regarding the first complaint, Maheshwaran said that Nagarajan sexually abused the girl during their training from 2013 to 2020. As a result, this athlete came forward to register a case with police, the officer added.

The police statement, which is based on the victim’s statements, 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.”

The statement also said that the coach had threatened the athlete, saying he would stop the training and her career would be over.

“Owing to the mental stress she was going through, she did not mention the sexual harassment to anyone,” Indian Express quoted the police statement.

Coach abused me at the age of 13, says a victim athlete

Another athlete, who is among the latest to accuse coach Nagarajan of sexual harassment, claimed that the coach had started to abuse her at the age of 13 sexually, and it went on for about 7 years.

“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,” the former athlete who is in her 30s said to Indian Express.

The athlete said that she eventually decided to join another track and field club after getting NOC from Nagarajan. On confronting him over what he had done to her, Nagarajan asked for her forgiveness. As she left for another club, she encountered other athletes who had similar stories of abuse to share.

“Here I was thinking that I was the only one… I thought it would stop with me. It shattered me. I am so ashamed that compared to girls coming from villages, I had a bit of awareness, but I was not bold enough,” said the former athlete.

As several former athletes have now come forward to share their ordeal, the athlete hopes that she will finally have “closure”.

“We finally got him. I don’t know what will happen to him, but what has happened thus far is that his mask is off. Right now, I am just expecting to make sure that he never touches another girl again,” she said.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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