The call comes in the wake of a disturbing case in which a beach volleyball coach is suspected of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl, and producing and circulating pornographic material.
The State Police has completed its investigation and it is now up to the prosecutor to decide whether to bring charges against the male suspect who is a beach volleyball coach – though according to the Latvian Volleyball Federation, his coaching certificate expired six years ago.
Police said they had obtained evidence that the suspect had sexual feelings towards minors. He has not been officially named, but has been identified by the LETA newswire as 40-year-old Vladimirs Obodovs. According to LETA, the means by which he came to police attention was unusual. A middle-aged man was seen kissing an obviously underage girl on public transport in Rīga this April. Other passengers responded by calling the police and subsequent investigations revealed the full extent of the abuse.
Specialists at the Dardedze center emphasized that people with such tendencies often look for work opportunities closer to children. Dardedze helps dozens of children who have suffered from sexual violence every year.
The majority, or 84%, suffered at the hands of relatives, while some others were sexually abused by coaches of various sports.
"The responsibility here is only on the adult's side, we must not look for fault in the child. These are the responsibilities of trust, an authority relationship between a coach or a student, between an educator and a student by definition, a relationship of power and authority. The adult is responsible for this child, for what happens to their future," said Anda Avena, communications manager of the Dardedze center.
A large number of children who have become victims of sexual violence begin to talk about what happened only when they are adults. Therefore, in order to notice danger as soon as possible, the specialists of Dardedze invite parents and carers to discuss borderline issues with children, to teach even very young children about unwanted touches. And the center suggests these questions should be discussed among sports organizations as well, including respect for privacy in changing rooms and showers.
The general secretary of the Latvian Volleyball Federation, Arnis Tunte, said that in May, the Federation received a call from the State Police and that it had fully cooperated with their investigation, ensuring that the suspect was no longer coaching children, even though the suspect's coaching certificate expired six years ago and he was not cooperating with the Federation.
You can learn more about the work of Dardedze at the organization's website: https://centrsdardedze.lv/en/