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Nihon U. fires cheerleading coach after reported harassment of student

A document released by the family of the harassed student is seen.

TOKYO -- Nihon University announced on Aug. 9 that the head coach of its competitive cheerleading club was dismissed, after the Mainichi Shimbun reported that the coach harassed a member who is now suffering from psychological trauma.

The action was taken by the school's Health and Physical Education Council, which oversees the institution's 34 athletic clubs. The university, which has already been rocked by a scandal involving the former head coach of its American football club, explained that the dismissal was made "because it was judged that the guidance of students may be affected." The school added that the harassment case is now under internal investigation by the school's human rights protection body, and the results will be announced shortly.

The club member was scolded by the coach in February in front of the other members of the club on the grounds that she asked administrative staff to cancel a training session on a snowy day. However, the student made no such request. The victim has become unable to attend classes.

The university announced the coach's dismissal via a press release email from the public affairs office. The document said the school cannot explain in detail what happened "out of privacy concerns." The Mainichi Shimbun inquired about the problematic response from the university on Aug. 9, but the school has not responded.

Meanwhile, the Foundation of Japan Cheerleading Association, to which the Nihon University club belongs, told the Mainichi Shimbun that the association was consulted in May about the harassment case by the student, and interviewed the head coach to hear the coach's side of the story. The coach acknowledged most of what the victim described, and said she wished to apologize. In addition, the coach submitted a letter of apology dated Aug. 5 reading that she was deeply sorry for what happened and want to try to avoid such a situation from occurring again.

Takashi Shimoji, executive director of the association, said the group would like to consider its response, including taking punitive measures, after observing the university's response, as the incident happened during a club activity rather than during an association-organized event.

The coach is certified as an instructor by the association, and if judged unbecoming of her role, could face punishment such as suspension or verbal reprimand, according to the association.

(Japanese original by Tamami Kawakami and Yuji Semba, City News Department)

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