A rape survivor has committed suicide as her friend and ex-Sky Sport’s presenter Charlie Webster pays tribute to her. Katie, who was found dead at her home on Sunday in Australia, helped to convict her paedophile running coach that inspired a BBC documentary. Ms Webster shared the sad news as she paid tribute to her “courageous and strong” friend Katie and said that she was “so sad, hurt and pained”.
Charlie, 40, wrote: “I’m so sad, hurt and pained to say Katie has sadly passed away.
“Katie is my friend, was part of my running group that I made my BBC documentary Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach about. Katie died by suicide.”
The presenter revealed how she met Katie when they were children at a running club in Sheffied and the pair became friends.
However, both were groomed by the club’s respected coach – Paul North – and subjected to his horrific sexual abuse.
In 2021, Charlie made a powerful documentary for the BBC on the abuse, with both of the women coming face to face with North in court to testify and put him behind bars.
A GoFundMe to bring Katie’s body back to the UK to lay her to rest has been set up.
Paying tribute, Charlie wrote: “She was incredibly courageous, strong and so brave to stand up in court and testify against him. Paul North got 10 years in prison. Katie saved so many other children from being sexually abused by this abhorrent rapist. We know there were girls abused before us but Katie made sure there were none after us.
“This is not about him but it is about the long-term trauma sexual abuse causes. Katie tried to start a new life in Australia, coping the best way she could and fighting every step of the way, she was an incredible and dedicated athlete.
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“Katie achieved an elite level in Muay Thai, CrossFit and yoga through adversity. The thing about the trauma of sexual abuse, it doesn’t just go away. What happened to Katie made her feel worthless like she wasn’t enough, and it impacted her mental health, as is common for all survivors, me including.
“Her family was trying to get Katie to come home to the UK as of late. For Katie the pain was just too much, her mental health deteriorated and she devastatingly took her own life.”
She added: “Please help us, finally get Katie home, to be with her mum. Katie’s body is currently in Sydney, she is alone, we are raising funds to get Katie repatriated to the UK so her mum can lay her to rest and give her the peace she so desperately sought.”
Nowhere to Run: Abused by our Coach aired on BBC One in September 2021 and saw Charlie tell her story for the first time. When she was 12, Charlie joined an all-girls running group in Sheffield. Running became her passion and escape, and the girls in her running group were her best friends. It was a dream.
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But all that time their sports coach was abusing her. She never spoke to any of her friends about what was happening to her.
“It became my own secret that I pushed really far down, but I carried it with me everywhere,” the presenter recalled.
Charlie was 19 when their coach was arrested and convicted. He was sent to prison for 10 years.
Following his imprisonment, Charlie then she realised she wasn’t the only victim, he’d been convicted based on the testimony of two other girls from her running club.
Speaking to Grazia magazine shortly after the documentary premiered, Charlie said: “Since the documentary aired, I’ve had hundreds of messages from people reaching out with their own stories of abuse in sport.
If you’re struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their site to find your local branch