South Korean triathlon team physiotherapist sentenced to 8 years in prison for sexual abuse


Ahn Joo-hyeon, the former physiotherapist of the South Korean Gyeongju triathlon team, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for sexual abuse and fraud. Joo-hyeon and the team manager were defendants in the case concerning the suicide of South Korean Choi Suk-hyeon. The triathlete committed suicide after filing a complaint of years of sexual abuse and violence.

In August, last year, Joo-hyeon was indicted for embezzlement of 200.000 euros by pretending to be a physiotherapist, even though he actually didn’t have a medical license. Additionally, the man was accused of verbal and physical violence towards athletes, and the sexual abuse of female athletes.

Lawsuits against team manager and team members

The case only caught people’s attention after the tragic death of Suk-hyeon. Before her suicide, she filed a complaint to the South Korean Olympic Committee against the physical therapist and team manager, but there was no action on that complaint. The lawsuit against her team manager and team members, who were aware of what was happening, will soon go to court.

The judge sentenced Joo-hyeon to eight years in prison and a fine of 9,000 euros. Joo-hyeon is banned from working with children and will have to attend 80 hours of sex offender treatment. The judge also ordered his identity and his case to be made public. Because Joo-hyeon confessed guilt and expressed regret, he didn’t get the initially demanded 10 years of imprisonment.

Recordings as burden of proof

After Suk-hyeon’s death, local media reported that the triathlete reached out to different sport authorities about the situation within the South Korean triathlon team. The triathlete also shared recordings that proved the physical violence. In her diary Suk-hyeon wrote she was regularly hit and sometimes not allowed to eat for days in a row because she would be “too fat.” The recordings have been used as evidence in the case.