Head of the Haitian soccer federation investigated for alleged rape of girls

PUERTO PRÍNCIPE: Police in Haiti are investigating allegations that the president of the national football the federation raped teenagers, the defendant said while denying wrongdoing.

"The only way to stop this scandal of all-out falsehoods," the football boss, Yves Jean-Bart , he told AFP on Friday, is precisely to investigate it and reveal the truth.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported last week that teenage girls living in a soccer Training facilities outside Port-au-Prince have been raped or sexually assaulted over the past five years.

At least two minors underwent abortions after being raped by Jean-Bart, according to colleagues, who said they had also been sexually assaulted and pressured to keep quiet about it, the newspaper said.

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Two women's advocacy groups, SOFA and Kay Fanm, issued a statement in support of the alleged victims.

These girls are exposed to sexual predators and have no protection from the state or other officials, they said.

In one video that is circulating, the soccer boss is seen unabashedly touching a young girl inappropriately, they added.

In another, seen by AFP, Jean-Bart is seen sitting next to a young female player on a couch during an interview, with her hand on his shoulder during the seven-minute question-and-answer session.

Jean-Bart explained that this interview was taped more than three years ago at his request as the federation celebrated the fact that the girl in the footage had done a training session with Europe's top women's football team, Olympique Lyonnais , from France.

He said that touching the girl was an insignificant gesture made with parental affection.

Only an athlete can understand this, Jean-Bart said.

Jean-Bart said he was asked by a district attorney to appear in court on Thursday.

"All there is, is a big scandal but no victims, no complaint, no grounds, no report, no account of events," said Jean-Bart, who has run the football federation for 20 years.

Pascale Solages, a leading women's rights activist, said families of sexual assault victims in Haiti often keep quiet about these offenses because they fear reprisal if they speak out.