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Mark Philippoussis's father Nick suffers massive stroke in US jail

7 January 2018 7:40 PM
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Australian tennis coach Nick Philippoussis has suffered a massive stroke in a US jail and will likely never face trial on charges he sexually assaulted two young girls he trained in California.

A San Diego judge was told on Thursday 68-year-old Philippoussis, the father of former world top 10 Australian player Mark Philippoussis, is catatonic after the stroke and has been held under guard and handcuffed to a bed in a public hospital for several months.

The Australian tennis coach may never face trial on charges he sexually assaulted two young girls after a massive stroke has left him catatonic.

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The Australian tennis coach may never face trial on charges he sexually assaulted two young girls after a massive stroke has left him catatonic.

"He is conscious, but is not responding to any stimuli," Philippoussis Sr's lawyer Ryan Tegnelia said.

Philippoussis has been in custody since his shock arrest in July for allegedly sexually abusing the two nine-year-old girls, but with his health so dire, Judge Michael Washington agreed to lift the $US9.2 million bail (A$11.7m) and set a hearing in June to check his condition.

In July, Philippoussis pleaded not guilty to 14 charges relating to the alleged sexual assaults. He was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In a statement at the time of his arrest, the San Diego Sheriff's Department said Philippoussis had been working as a personal tennis coach, and the nine-year-old girls had allegedly been taking tennis lessons from him.

Philippoussis allegedly assaulted the girls for almost a year in different locations including his car, home and a tennis complex.

The lifting of his bail would halt the need for guards and handcuffs and allow his son and other family members to visit with less restrictions.

Mr Tegnelia rejected speculation Philippoussis could be faking illness to avoid a trial and jail.

"No-one has accused him of trying to pull a fast one," Mr Tegnelia said.

He will remain in hospital and his passport has been handed over to prosecutors.

Deputy district attorney Garret Wong said he had consulted the physicians caring for Philippoussis and was told "his prognosis was poor".

"We felt he did not pose a threat to the public's safety," Mr Wong said.

The victims and their families were also briefed on Philippoussis' condition and told he was not a threat.

"We have been informed recovery is not very likely," Mr Tegnelia said.

Philippoussis coached his son Mark while he was a professional player. While he was coached by his father, Mark reached a singles ranking of world No.8 and won two Davis Cup titles in 1999 and 2003. Mark also reached the finals of the US Open in 1998 and Wimbledon in 2003.

Mark parted ways with his father professionally in 2006, and said at the time that reports he had fallen out with his father were wrong.

"My dad's my dad. He's been there from the start. Without him, I wouldn't be where I am. There's nothing at all that's happened with my dad. I just needed to spend some time on my own," he said after losing to Rafael Nadal in the first round of the US Open in 2006.

"My dad's still there. I talk to him every day, even before matches. Nothing's changed. I just needed to have some time on my own, simple as that."

Philippoussis' family had been supporting him and appeared at a court hearing in July, with Philippoussis smiling and waving at his son Mark from his closed-off portion of the courtroom.

The tennis coach's lawyer, Ryan Tegnelia, told reporters at the time of the arrest that the family was shocked by the charges.

Also read: Fatigue leads to Kyrgios incidents: Woodbridge

Source: theage.com.au

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