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Australian Coach Accused Again of Sexual Abuse -- February 12, 2003

By Phillip Whitten

SYDNEY, Feb. 12. SCOTT Volkers, the famed Australian coach who produced such great swimmers as Susie O'Neill and Samantha Riley has been accused again of sexual abuse by one of the same women who brought charges against him last July.

Charges of indecent assault were dropped last October by the Queensland Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) after Volkers' legal team had produced conflicting evidence. Volkers, who had been suspended by Australian swimming, was reinstated and appointed National Women's Team Coach.

On Monday, however, a damaging program was broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting System's "Australian Story" show, which focused on Julie Gilbert, a former swimmer under Volkers' charge and one of three women who made allegations of indecent assault against him last year.

Mrs. Gilbert, 31, claimed on the program that she was sexually assaulted by Volkers when she was aged 13.

Last night, Volkers responded, saying the broadcast was "clearly defamatory of my character."

"I did not appear on the show as I did not want to add any credence or perpetuate the allegations made on the show which are clearly not true and have no substance.

"I don't believe that anyone should have the right to keep trying to publicly ruin my and my family's life just because the outcome of a case was not an acceptable one from their perspective.

"My family and I are trying to get on with our lives, which are made more difficult when shows are broadcast in these circumstances," he said in a statement.

Australian Swimming's executive director, Glenn Tasker, said Volkers would continue to serve as an official national team coach "unless something happens which forced us to reconsider our position."