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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Coach charged with assaulting boys

A reportedly well-known Norwegian athletics leader and coach from Hedmark County is suspected of sexually assaulting dozens of boys over the past 30 years. He’s been formally charged with nine assaults, including attempted rape, and several of his victims were young asylum seekers put under his care.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday afternoon that police think many more boys, perhaps as many as 60, have also been his victims in cases stretching back to the 1980s. Several have already exceeded the statute of limitations and can’t be prosecute. Police say complaints were never filed by the boys involved because of the shame they felt and the fact that many were unsure of their rights in Norway.

Victims ‘dependent and subservient’
“Several of those we have contacted have confirmed they were subjected to sexual assault,” prosecutor Henning Klauseie told NRK. “They couldn’t bring themselves to talk about it, didn’t know what was allowed and not allowed, and they felt they were dependent (on the Norwegian coach), and subservient.”

The defendant has not been identified, in keeping with press practice in Norway, nor did NRK even report which sport he has coached or identified the athletics club involved. His defense attorney, Vegard Aaløkken, told reporters that his client has admitted to some of the charges against him.

“He admits he went over the limits in some cases,” Aaløkken told NRK, declining to go into further detail while his client’s case is under investigation.

Athletics club contacted police
It started when the athletics club to which he was attached sent a letter to the police. One of its former athletes had reported to the club that he’d been assaulted by the coach. Police launched an investigation and believe they’ve uncovered assaults from the 1980s until more recently. Police have been in contact with more than 60 people believed to have been assaulted.

The coach is charged with attempted rape, sexual relations with minors and with exploiting his position, along with trying to influence witnesses by trying to encourage some of his alleged victims to lie to the police.

He faces 10 years in prison in a case similar to one now due to come up in the Troms County Court in June. In that case, former government minister and county governor Svein Ludvigsen is also charged with exploiting his position to gain sexual favours from young male asylum seekers. That case has received national press coverage, not least because of the risk it reveals for vulnerable refugees trying to obtain residence permission in Norway. Berglund



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