From gymnastics to football and softball to wrestling, sexual abuse is prevalent in youth and teen sports at all levels. We have seen a number of high-profile coaching figures face very serious allegations for molestation and sexual abuse. Tragically, many young athletes are abused by trusted adults. Coaches, trainers, physical therapists, and other adults have been known to sexually abuse or molest children involved in organized sports. Individual athletes and team athletes are at risk. If your child is showing signs of child molestation, contact our compassionate and dedicated youth sports sexual abuse lawyers today.
Child sexual abuse includes unwanted, groomed, or forced involvement in sexual behavior. This term includes a wide range of behaviors, including sexual jokes, threats, intimidation, and advances or actions of a sexual nature.
Sexual Abuse in Sports
The International Olympic Committee provides information on its website about the process of “grooming” victims in sport. This is the process by which sexual predators target, abuse, and silence their victims.
When targeting a potential victim, an abuser may look for an athlete who is vulnerable and then find occasions to test his or her ability to keep secrets. The abuser may strike up an especially close friendship with the athlete. In order to build trust with a possible victim, an abuser might give gifts or go out of his or her way to make the athlete feel special. Youth sports sexual abusers have been known to initiate “bargains” with their victims (i.e., “you have to do this because I have done that”).
The next stage in the grooming process is to isolate and control the potential victim and build loyalty with the athlete. An abuser may refuse the child athlete access to his or her significant others or demean previous sources of friendship and support. Finally, an abuser will initiate sexual abuse. The abuser might invoke guilt by blaming the victim for the abuse. The abuser might also discredit the athlete victim by stating that other people won’t believe his or her claims of abuse. Sadly, many abusers threaten their victims. In instances of abuse in organized sport, abusers frequently threaten their victims with being dropped from the team or not being able to compete.
Detecting Sexual Abuse in Youth Sports
Sexual abuse can be difficult to detect. There is no conclusive profile of a sexual abuser, and few behaviors are definitive indicators of sexual abuse or molestation. If you are concerned that your child athlete may have been abused by a trusted adult in his or her sporting organization, watch for these behaviors:
Sleep problems including frequent nightmares or inability to sleep;
Changes in eating habits including a loss of appetite or refusal to eat;
Dramatic mood swings;
Periods of intense anger, rage, anxiety, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal;
Attempting to initiate conversations with other children or adults about sexual matters,
Repeatedly refusing to talk about about a secret that is shared with an adult; or
Displaying adult-like sexual behaviors, knowledge, and language.
Sexual Abuse by Coach in Organized Sports
A sports coach is someone parents trust to watch over and protect their children. They are also put a position of power and have access to vulnerable child athletes. A sexual predator may work to get into a coaching role in order to have access to children and it’s up to the sports organization to protect kids from these sorts of predators. Coaches often have time alone with kids, are trusted by their athletes, and sometimes even travel with them. If you suspect your child was abuse by his or her coach, contact the trusted coach sexual abuse lawyers of Estey & Bomberger for compassionate, dedicated, and experienced legal representation. We will fight to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Many coaches, trainers, instructors, and other adults have perpetrated horrific sex crimes against the vulnerable child athletes with whom they have come into contact through youth sports leagues and sporting organizations. Many young athletes develop close relationships with their coaches, which are then exploited by coaches for the purposes of sexual abuse. Child athletes may be particularly reluctant to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against a coach or trainer for fear that they will harm their teammates as a result.
According to the non-profit advocacy organization Safe4Athletes, hundreds of coaches have been banned by youth sporting organizations for inappropriate sexual conduct. Estey & Bomberger commends the following sports organizations for publicly listing online the individuals who have been banned from membership in their organization or subject to disciplinary action as a result of conduct violations.
- USA Gymnastics: USA Gymnastics is the sole governing body for the sport of gymnastics in the United States. On their website, USA Gymnastics lists more than 80 individuals who are permanently banned from the organization for violating rules and regulations implemented to protect young gymnasts.
- USA Swimming: USA Swimming is a national governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States. It serves more than 400,000 members. USA Swimming lists more than 60 individuals who are permanently suspended or ineligible for membership in the organization due to Code of Conduct violations.
- U.S. Figure Skating Association: The U.S. Figure Skating Association (or USFSA) is the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United States. USFSA lists individuals on its website that have been permanently banned from membership as a result of their conduct.
- USA Judo: USA Judo oversees the sport of judo in the United States. USA Judo lists individuals who have been subject to disciplinary action on their website.
We urge other youth sports organizations to follow in the footsteps of these organizations, understand the facts about child molestation and alert parents to dangerous individuals in sports communities.
If your child was victimized by a coach, trainer, or other adult while participating in a youth sports organization or organized sports team, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit for money damages against the organization. To discuss your child’s case, call (800) 925-0723 to speak with one of the compassionate California sexual abuse attorneys at Estey & Bomberger.
We represent victims of sexual abuse that took place in youth sports programs, including but not limited to the following programs:
Support for Victims of Sexual Abuse in Organized Sports
For more information about child sexual assault and molestation in organized sports, visit the International Olympic Committee website on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport.
The following resources may also be of assistance to you:
Youth Sports Sexual Abuse Attorneys | Coach Molestation Lawyers
If you are concerned that your child may have been the victim of sexual molestation or abuse in an organized sports setting, call our youth sports sexual abuse lawyers at Estey & Bomberger to discuss your rights. For a free and confidential consultation about your case, dial 1 (800) 925-0723.