'It feels like betrayal,' says ex-student of Winnipeg taekwondo instructor accused of child abuse
King Yeung charged with child abuse, sexual exploitation after 2 complainants came forward
A Winnipeg woman who trained under King Yeung says she is shocked to learn that the Winnipeg taekwondo grandmaster is now charged with sexually assaulting two other former students.
"It's a huge blow," said Luna Galdames, who trained as a competitive taekwondo athlete when she was a teenager.
"It feels like betrayal. I feel like I've been betrayed … I'm angered."
Galdames, now 42, said she started going to Kang's Academy, where Yeung was chief instructor, when she was 14 years old and trained there daily for about two or three years. Galdames was in a special class of Yeung's for students who qualified for the Olympic trials.
Galdames added that athletes generally look up to their coaches and spend a lot of time with them, so news of the allegations against Yeung is personal for her.
Yeung, 57, has been charged with child abuse, sexual exploitation and other offences related to incidents that were alleged to have happened between 1998 and 2012.
The allegations come from two individuals who allege that Yeung inappropriately touched them and sexually assaulted them while they were students at Kang's Academy.
Both alleged victims said they were under the age of 16 at the time.
The allegations against Yeung have not been proven in court.
Taekwondo authorities should do more to protect children: expert
Sandy Kirby, a sports scientist at the University of Winnipeg who studies abuse in sport, says Taekwondo Manitoba and Taekwondo Canada should take a hard look at their policies and ask tough questions.
Yeung was an active member of Winnipeg's taekwondo community and was known to produce athletes that went on to compete at higher levels, Kirby said.
"Taekwondo obviously gets good mileage out of [Yeung] when he's turning out athletes and performing well, so they have a relationship with him of some sort," she said.
Kirby said generally speaking, sexual predators are often people that those who are closest to them would least expect.
"They look like the people next door. They are usually quite clever. They're very good at grooming, they're very good at building loyalty. They're very good at being best friends with the people they work with," she said.
"So our vigilance, and the policies that we have to work with, are the best things in the world."
Kirby said any sport can be fertile ground for abuse to take place — activities where young people are put in a position of working closely with adults that they trust should be closely monitored.
"It's not [just] young athletes, its young people in particular, when they are in an environment where there are adults who have sexual motives, there's very little to protect them except our observance," she said.
Parents need to play an active role in their children's activities, Kirby said.
"Don't just drop your kid off and say, 'I'll see you in two hours.' Stay, watch, be involved, know the coaches, work with the coaches, work with the other parents … go on the trips, be the chaperones."
"The damage to the athlete is that they've given their loyalty and their trust to someone who then betrays them. That's the part they carry with them the rest of their lives,"
With files from Holly Caruk