Warning: This article contains references to rape and sexual abuse
More women have come forward after a survivor of historical child sexual abuse at the hands of a former trampoline coach spoke out.
Last month, BBC Sport reported the account of ‘Emma’ – her name changed for anonymity – who claimed she was another survivor of convicted paedophile and former British Olympic diver Brian Phelps.
Phelps, who won a 1960 bronze medal at the Rome Olympics as a teenager, became a trampolining coach at a gymnastics club after his career finished.
But he was later jailed in 2008, aged 64, after admitting a string of historical indecent assaults against three children aged between six and 15, in the 1970s and 1980s.
Emma told BBC Sport that she was one of several further victims and claimed she was raped and abused from the age of five to 12 in the mid-late 70s and early 80s by Phelps in the Olga gymnastics gyms he ran with his wife.
Emma said there were 15 further survivors from her conversations with other women which began after she read about Phelps being jailed in 2008 – and she said she always believed the number could be even higher.
She also accused British Gymnastics of “catastrophic failures” in what she claims is the biggest case of sexual abuse in the governing body’s history.
Following media coverage, several more women have made contact with Emma and BBC Sport understands British Gymnastics has been contacted directly by some of the new alleged victims.
The governing body told the BBC that Emma’s story was “harrowing reading”. It says it has been liaising with the police to help facilitate communication for any survivors who have been in touch with them, and added: “Above anything else, the safety and wellbeing of gymnasts and everyone involved in the sport remains our absolute priority. We must rebuild trust and make this sport safe for everyone.”
Dorset Police said it is committed to supporting victims and holding those responsible to account. It said: “We would urge anyone who has been the subject of non-recent sexual abuse to please report it to Police. Please contact Dorset Police via 101 and ask to be put in contact with a specially-trained police officer.”
Emma says several more possible locations of abuse in Dorset have now come to light and she’s helping support those new people who’ve spoken to her, along with Gymnasts 4 Change – a global group of former gymnasts campaigning to end abusive coaching practices.
In a statement, Gymnasts 4 Change claimed information in the public domain about this case “is only the tip of the iceberg” and said the group is “a safe space for any further survivors who wish to come forward to share their stories and connect with our survivor led network”.
Along with indecent assault, Phelps was also charged with rape and attempted rape in 2008 – but denied it. He also categorically denied any abuse of Emma or any other alleged survivors and told the BBC he had “no comment”.
Phelps – who won gold medals at the 1962 and 1966 Commonwealth Games – served six years of a nine-year jail sentence and now lives in France with his wife.
Emma previously told BBC Sport that the recent exposure of mistreatment in the sport, plus the Whyte Review investigation of “systemic” physical and emotional abuse in gymnastics, made her feel “empowered” to speak out.
If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, there is information and support available on BBC Action Line.