Tennis - French tennis coach jailed for rapes

Former tennis coach Regis de Camaret has been sentenced to eight years in prison for raping young players at his academy in France.

Frenchman De Camaret, now 70, ran a tennis school in Saint-Tropez in the 1970s and ‘80s, and was the coach of former world number three Nathalie Tauziat.

Around 20 of his former pupils accused him rape or sexual abuse between 1977 and 1989, with allegations flooding in after former French number two and world number 35 Isabelle Demongeot revealed the scale of the abuse in a book.

Tauziat acted as a character witness for the defence, denying that any abuse took place, but the court found he had raped two girls, then aged 12 and 13.

Most of the victims were unable to pursue prosecutions because the statute of limitations had run out, but they acted as witnesses in the trial.

De Camaret, who denied the charges but admitted that the atmosphere at his academy “encouraged promiscuity”, has been banned from working in tennis for life.

“Tonight he is in prison, he is the victim now,” Demongeot told AFP after the trial. “It was a long battle, and you can see we have been affected beside it.”

The women who were able to prosecute De Camaret were 36-year-old pair Stephanie Carrouget and Karine Pomares.

De Camaret claimed he had only “touched” Carrouget and that he was in a “consensual relationship” with Demongeot while she trained at the Marres tennis club.

The original case against De Camaret was dropped in 2009 for “lack of evidence”, although the prosecutor expressed his surprise at this.

His lawyer claimed the case was a complex conspiracy theory hatched by Demongeot, bitter at her rival Tauziat’s success.

However, her claim was made in 2005, while the first complaint against De Camaret – from a younger player of a different generation – was made three years earlier, in 2002.