SYDNEY: The coach in charge of Australia's powerful Olympic swimming programme yesterday denied sexual abuse and stalking allegations by a former pupil.
Former junior swimmer Emma Fuller accused Australian Swimming high performance director Greg Hodge of having a “sick obsession” with her and applied to a Sydney court this week for an apprehended violence order (AVO) to prevent him approaching her.
Hodge yesterday dismissed Fuller's allegations as “fanciful” and took out a defamation writ against Channel Nine, the television station where she aired her claims on Monday evening.
Hodge, 55, coached Fuller from the mid-1990s, and she lived at his family home for 14 months before being asked to leave in February 1997.
Fuller, now 20, claimed Hodge kissed her and touched her inappropriately during training sessions.
Hodge said he treated the young swimmer the same as his two daughters while she was living in his home, giving her occasional hugs and goodnight kisses on the cheek.
Fuller said she applied for the court order after Hodge allegedly waited for her outside her Sydney workplace earlier this year and followed her home, a claim denied by the coach.
Hodge said Fuller had displayed paranoid, attention-seeking behaviour while in his home and had eventually been told to leave by his wife Sue.
He denied any wrongdoing and accused Fuller of targeting him because her swimming career had never taken off.
“I think (this is) more about lost dreams and revenge than it is about personal safety,” he said.
He said the case was “a bizarre set of circumstances that has been manipulated into this fanciful story”.
Fuller's application for the AVO is due to be heard on Oct 22.
Australian Swimming confirmed it had received a complaint about Hodge and was considering what action to take.
“It's up to Australian Swimming, I know they're a fair organisation,” Hodge said.
Last year, national head women's coach Scott Volkers was accused of molesting three women. Charges against him were initially dropped but prosecutors are now reviewing the case and considering fresh charges. – AFP