BORDEAUX, France (AP) — A former French swimming champion is on trial in southwest France for the alleged rape and sexual abuse of young boys and adolescents during the decade he ran an ice hockey club in northern France.
Vincent Leroyer told a jury as his three-day trial got underway in Bordeaux on Monday that he acknowledged "nearly all" of the accusations against him except for the allegation he raped a boy.
Leroyer, who turns 61 on Tuesday, is accused of sexually abusing five boys ages 6-14 and raping one of them when he managed the ice hockey club in Rouen from 1986 to 1996.
His alleged victims, now in their 30s and 40s, listened silently as the court heard that Leroyer befriended the boys' parents and allegedly molested them at their homes or during sleepovers at his house.
The court president said some of the evidence drew a portrait of Leroyer behaving like a "predator" who "wove his web" around boys' families, befriending parents to get access to their children.
Leroyer was a French national backstroke champion during the 1970s but an injury kept him out of the 1978 world championships. He later worked for French swimming apparel maker Arena.
The child rape charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, while child sex abuse is punishable by a jail term of up to 10 years. The verdict is expected on Wednesday.