If You Were Abused by a Coach or Other Sports Leader, Our Lawyers Can Help You
Among the sports scandals that have shocked Americans are the many sexual abuse complaints made by athletes against coaches, sports clubs, and athletic organizations. From youth sports to Olympic teams, suffering athletes have stepped forward to tell their stories in public in hopes of finally receiving justice.
The stories that have emerged are not anomalies in an otherwise safe industry. The sheer number of accusers and accusations shows just how deep this problem runs: One hundred and fifty professional swim coaches have been permanently banned from the sport. Ohio State football coaching legend Joe Paterno was brought down when news broke that his assistant coach Larry Sandusky was facing 35 accusations of assault. Nearly 200 athletes across 12 sports at Ohio State University alleged abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss. And more than 350 professional gymnasts, including Olympic champions, came together to accuse team doctor Larry Nassar of abusing them for years.
In addition to sports organizations at some of the highest levels, abusers also have infiltrated children’s leagues and school teams. Though the prevalence of sexual abuse within the world of sports is unknown, nonprofit Childhelp suggests between 2 and 8% of all athletes experience sexual abuse. Those individuals may carry scars from the abuse their whole lives.
Sports Clubs Make Athletes Vulnerable
When our children are near unknown people, as parents we try to stay close to them to keep them safe. One of the few times we let our children be alone with adults is during sports practices and sports-related travel. Every sports organization should thoroughly vet anyone allowed to coach, provide medical care, or interact closely with athletes. As recent events show, far too often these controls do not exist and/or systems are set up to protect the powerful abusers at the expense of athletes.
Sports Organizations Need Stronger Rules
Though the sexual abuse of athletes has been a topic of discussion for years, many sports organizations, professional committees, and governing bodies do little to safeguard athletes. Particularly at higher levels, athletes may fear interference with their athletic goals if they make a complaint. Those who have the courage to report their experiences often see their abuser absolved of all wrongdoing by self-serving internal investigations. The deck is stacked against athletes in many ways.
Though student and adult athletes have a different dynamic with coaches and trainers than their younger counterparts, sports norms can nudge both parties toward an abusive situation. In some athletic spheres, coaches may expect to make romantic connections with the people they are paid to train. USA Swimming, which oversees Olympic-level athletes, did not ban relationships between coaches and their charges until 2013. Reportedly, they only made the change then due to outside pressure. Whether the undercurrents of expectation remain among high-level coaches remains to be seen.
Hold Your Abuser Accountable
Surviving the trauma and aftermath of sexual abuse is not easy, and we don’t want you to bear the burden alone. If you are able to obtain financial compensation from your abuser or the organization, team, or entity that facilitated or allowed the abuse, you won’t have to worry about being able to afford the quality care you need to heal from what you have gone through. Many parties may be accountable: Your abuser, others who knew of the abuse and covered it up, leadership that refused to remove the abuser after previous reports, or organizations that have not done enough to challenge the culture of athlete abuse within the sport.
As your advocates and counsel, we will take as much of the burden off your shoulders as possible in your search for accountability and justice. Let us help you identify your legal options and start the process of earning justice at last.
The criminal justice system may penalize and incarcerate offenders, but it typically doesn’t give anything back to those they injured. We want to help you get justice you deserve after such an ordeal. Call Ashcraft & Gerel at (866) 709-0505 or contact us online today if you have an athletic sexual abuse claim and wish to arrange a free, private, and fully confidential consultation with an experienced lawyer.