Trial of coach accused of assaulting boys begins in Sweden

The trial of a sports coach in Sweden accused of 100 counts of crimes against a dozen teenage boys is under way in Blekinge, with the man admitting that he tied them up but denying that he committed a crime as he believes they gave their consent.

Trial of coach accused of assaulting boys begins in Sweden
The coach being taken to the courtroom at Blekinge District Court. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

“I am working for 55 counts of aggravated unlawful coercion and 45 counts of aggravated assault,” prosecutor John Dagnevik explained at the start of the trial.

The man's lawyer Nils Fagrenius said the 41-year-old denies committing a crime in some of the instances he has been charged with, but admits that he tied up the boys and placed their body parts in certain positions.

The coach insists that the boys went along with the acts and therefore denies the charges of unlawful coercion. “Consent rules out coercion,” defence lawyer Fagrenius argued.

A lawyer representing three of the boys disagreed however. “You can't consent to the kind of serious abuse they have been subjected to. Especially not at their age,” Björn Attnarsson said.

READ ALSO: Coach accused of assaulting teenage boys dating back at least a decade

It was at the end of January that some of the boys first told police about what they say they were subjected to at the man's countryside cottage in Blekinge, with some of the incidents dating back 10 years. Along with being tied up, they said they had plastic bags put over their heads, their mouths and noses taped shut, and clamps attached to their arms and nipples.

Police found videos on the man's hard disk which show 37 instances of boys being tied up, while a raid on his house also uncovered a large number of BDSM videos.

Due to statutes of limitations he is only charged over incidents that took place between April 2007 and November 2016, but the first documented one is from 2002. In total over 24 hours of recorded material is being used by the prosecution.

Asked by Swedish news agency TT why the boys took time before explaining what had happened to them, Attnarsson explained “they didn't know about eachother. Each of them thought it was just about them. They also had orders from the accused to not say anything. They felt forced to obey him in that way”.

The coach insists that the purpose of what he considered to be “trust exercises” was to improve the boys' performances in their sport, but that he now understands the acts could have been dangerous.

“I wouldn't have done it in that way, now that I have information from different places,” he said in questioning.

The trial at Blekinge District Court is expected to last 16 days.