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Former swimming champ sentenced for child rape, sexual abuse

January 23, 2019
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, former swimming champion and ex-manager of one of the country's most successful ice hockey clubs Vincent Leroyer sits on a chair during a break in proceedings during his trial for child rape and sexual molestation at the Bordeaux courthouse, southwestern France. A French court has found Leroyer guilty of child rape and sexual abuse and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment. (AP Photo/John Leicester).

BORDEAUX, France (AP) — A former French swimming champion and ex-manager of one of the country’s most successful hockey clubs was found guilty Wednesday of child rape and sexual abuse and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Vincent Leroyer, 61, was found guilty of abusing five boys between the ages of 6 and 14 when he managed the Rouen Hockey Club from 1986-96. His victims, now in their 30s and 40s, told the court how they have since struggled with addiction and a catalog of other difficulties.

The victims hugged each other after the guilty verdict and sentence was pronounced by the court.

Leroyer was a French national champion, specializing in backstroke, in the 1970s before injuries derailed his career. He went on to manage the Rouen Hockey Club, which won five national championships during his tenure.

The three-day trial highlighted how success as an athlete and sports administrator helped open doors that otherwise likely would have remained closed to the single man with no family or children of his own.

Prosecutors said he targeted families with marital difficulties and with fathers who were often absent for work and preyed on the children, with offers to help take kids to hockey games, for burger meals, on holiday and even to tuck them in at night.

In summing up the case against Leroyer for the jury, prosecutor Martine Cazaban-Pouchet said: “It helped the families to have someone who said, ‘I’m available.’” She had asked for a prison sentence of 12 to 14 years.

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