The trial in one of the most high-profile cases in French sports in recent years has come to an end. Former tennis coach Andrew Geddes was sentenced to 18 years in prison for multiple rapes of four teenage female students in the early 2000s. It turned out that Geddes had a well-thought-out and worked-out scheme that allowed him to go unpunished for a long time. Among his victims is the hope of a generation that has tied up with sports due to severe psychological trauma, never reaching the adult level. "Lenta.ru" understood the details of the scandal.
It all started in 1999, when Geddes, an Englishman by birth and one of the most successful coaches in French junior tennis, recruited another group in the famous sports club Sarcelles, which is located in the eponymous municipality near Paris. Although the specialist was famous for his tough manner, for the young students, according to their recollections, he was still “guru and god”. People lined up to see him, and his authority was not questioned. Geddes was engaged mainly with girls.
The main principle of the coach's work was to create complete isolation from the outside world. The athletes lived in the club and were almost never at home - even on weekends. He controlled all areas of their lives, knew everything about their friends and acquaintances, imposed interests and hobbies on them. Such an unusual approach did not alarm, but delighted the parents, who trusted the coach very much and did not worry about the fate of their daughters.
One of the police officers involved in the investigation told the newspaper Le Parisien: “He became more intrusive and gradually made himself indispensable to the students. He convinced them that without him they would not be able to progress. He was then 30-35 years old. " At the same time, the characteristics that Geddes were given by his former students often do not converge. Some did not agree with the widespread opinion about the tyranny of the mentor, others described him as an impulsive and explosive person, a tyrant. “One thing is for sure,” the policeman concluded. - He had a solid reputation and a certain aura. Everyone dreamed of training with him."
So Geddes was not only a famous coach, but also a strong psychologist. He subdued the athletes, zombified them, and they were ready to follow any of his instructions. Only years later, four former tennis players were able to tell that these requirements went far beyond the training process. It has been proven that from 2000 to 2014, the coach raped his underage students several hundred times.
Former athletes, whose names have been changed in the press, talked about forced oral sex and sex with penetration without a condom and any other protection. In addition, according to the victims, Geddes often subjected them to cruel and traumatic sexual practices, and he loved sophisticated experiments. This usually happened in the toilet, in the back seat of his car, in his apartment, less often in a hotel room.
Geddes would go unpunished if the former athletes remained silent. But in 2014, one of them decided to make the incident public. It was the coach's first victim, the star of the Sarcelles club. Le Parisien writes that the girl was predicted a great future, and experts called her the hope of a whole generation. In 2000, when Geddes raped her for the first time, she was 12 years old. This lasted two years, during which, according to the victim, there were at least 400 sexual acts. She especially remembered two weeks in La Baule (a commune in western France, in the Pei de la Loire region), where the coach took the athlete to the training camp.“I was completely under his control, alone, away from home and parents. It was hell. I became his thing. He could ask me to run eight laps on the court or give him a blowjob - for me it was equivalent, "- said the victim.
She explained that Geddes' power over her was so strong that it was simply impossible to argue. The girl received a message and came to the coach, and then silently obeyed. It is also important that she saw her mentor not so much as an offender, but as a man who, for some reason, wanted to trust. He knew how to compliment, praise for obedient behavior and encouragement. She explained, “He said he loved me, that he was raising me sexually, and he repeated that violence is pleasure. I was terrified, but I especially didn't want to cry in front of him. Not only could I not seem weak to him, but I also tried to please him. It may sound strange, but even then I tried not to disappoint him."
“Even if I had all day, I would not have time to tell about all the horrors that then filled my life. In short, he took everything from me. He stole my childhood, youth, future in tennis and sex life,”said the woman. She now suffers from insomnia, panic attacks and severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and does not want to have anything to do with sports.
Two other victims after her stated that they had been raped and then left almost completely naked on the way to the sports camp, which ran through the forest. They were then 15 years old. Another also admitted that at the age of 17 she spent "the most unhealthy night in my life" with the coach. And then the athletes were silent, not only because they respected the coach, but also because he blackmailed them. It was a reassurance. Most often, Geddes forced the girls to give him a blowjob and filmed them. He promised to show his parents and friends in case they tell someone, and he shamed them for their lust. In the French press, the injured tennis players were called sex slaves. They all left the sport without having played a single adult tournament.
In general, at first the former coach confessed to the rape of only one girl. “He does not dispute sexual relations with the other three victims, but insists that each time it was by mutual consent,” the judge said in a comment to Le Parisien. According to Geddes, it was impossible to understand that the students were against this or that act. Allegedly, they did not resist, and yet "could not resist seeing him without clothes." The man explained that he did not know that such sexual intercourse could be interpreted as rape.
At the same time, a psychiatric examination showed that Geddes was sane and acted deliberately. “It was difficult for the girls to condemn someone who was in their eyes a father, a coach, and a friend. At first, it was even impossible for them to understand what had happened. He foresaw the consequences and could not but know what he was doing,”the expert assured. This meant that the former coach could not count on the court's leniency. Lawyers, however, still appealed to Geddes' mental problems. Allegedly, the childhood traumas of the Englishman, who actually did not want to ruin anyone's life, is to blame.
So, one of Geddes' lawyers, Benjamin Mathieu, said that his client was an unloved child in the family and grew up in a lack of maternal care, spending almost all the time with his grandmother. “The mother was raising his half-sisters, but she left the boy,” he described. That is why, Mathieu believes, Geddes became toxic to women. The lawyer also pointed out "an urgent need for Andrew to feel love and be seduced." The victims, having heard this fiery speech, reacted painfully. Two did not hold back their tears, another one left the courtroom with a cry. A wave of indignation also rose in society. Geddes began to receive death threats, including, according to the lawyer, from his cellmates, where he was taken after the hearing.
So, for the first time, Geddes was sentenced in January 2020, when the jury in the Haut-de-Seine demanded 18 years in a maximum security colony for him. Then he was found guilty on all counts. At the same time, the prosecutor requested 15 years - the lawyers seized on this and filed an appeal. It took a whole year to appeal, and the former coach spent this time not behind bars, but under house arrest. Now, after the court hearing of the Yvelines department, he will definitely go to solitary confinement and can hardly count on a change in the term or conditions of detention.
On January 13, 2021, in court, 53-year-old Geddes said that he realized what horrors he had committed. “The extremely upsetting statements of the victims made me feel like a real rot,” L'Equipe quoted him as saying. The former coach added, however, that he initially considered the verdict too harsh and still holds this opinion. “I would prefer a bullet in the head, not 18 years in prison,” he stressed.
The lawyer of the convicted Mathieu, prior to the final verdict, insisted that Geddes is much more human than he is portrayed in the press. According to the lawyer, his client is not at all the embodiment of absolute evil, in addition, he also changed for the better during the trial. “This is a heavy punishment,” Mathieu said. "We want him to prove by his example that mistakes of the past can be corrected." How exactly, the lawyer did not specify.