Athletes Who Say Volleyball Coach Abused Them Speak Out
within the past year, sports organizations throughout the United States have come under scrutiny over allegations that will they mishandled or ignored reports of sexual assault of young athletes by their coaches.
On Tuesday, that will spotlight swung to Illinois, where former volleyball players who have accused a prominent coach of assault addressed the State Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination along with Harassment Awareness along with Prevention, which will be trying to formulate legislation to make youth sports safer.
“Certainly I am going into that will with an open mind along with trying to figure where the system failed along with where that will needs to be increased,” said Senator Jil Tracy, a Republican along with co-chairwoman of the task force, along with Senator Melinda Bush, a Democrat.
“We want to be preventive along with proactive,” Ms. Tracy said. “We don’t want to react to something that will has already occurred.”
The task force will be part of a nationwide reckoning by legislators along with authorities within the sports, entertainment along with business worlds to address accusations that will not enough has been done once sexual harassment along with assault are reported.
On Tuesday, the task force, which has held similar hearings with current along with former employees of casinos along with of Ford Motor Company since that will was set up late last year, focused on two former volleyball players whose experiences were part of a class-action lawsuit that will alleges that will their coach, Rick Butler, raped them along with others within the 1980s, when they were teenagers.
The lawsuit claims that will Mr. Butler, along with his wife, Cheryl, deceived parents along with athletes into joining their Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Aurora, Ill., “based upon false information along with material omissions.” that will was filed in February by Laura Mullen, the mother of an athlete who trained at the club in 2012.
Sarah Powers-Barnhard along with Julie Bremner Romias, who trained with Mr. Butler, told the task force they were raped along with assaulted during trips to competitions, on a train, in a hotel along with elsewhere. They said they were overcome by shame, did not know where they could turn to report the abuse along with were discouraged through doing so by officials.
Ms. Powers-Barnhard said she along with Ms. Romias finally went to U.S.A. Volleyball with their allegations when they were in their 20s. “We felt that will we were going to make a difference,” she said. “When they let him back in, nobody told us.”
Mr. Butler, who has never been charged having a crime, continued to coach even though U.S.A. Volleyball, the sport’s national governing body, barred him in 1995 over the allegations. The organization partly lifted the ban in 2000, along with he returned to coaching. He was permanently barred that will year.
The Butlers, through their lawyer, Danielle D’Ambrose, filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the lawsuit. Ms. Ambrose said in a statement on Tuesday that will she would likely have no further comment until she saw the transcript through the hearing. “We will not fight that will within the court of public opinion,” she said.
Jay Edelson, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said at the hearing that will some victims do not come forward because of old statute of limitations laws or because they are threatened with defamation lawsuits by their abusers.
“Often for youth sports especially, that will takes awhile for them to either come forward or be heard,” he said.
Kay Rogness, a former business partner of Mr. Butler’s whose daughter’s alleged assault will be described within the lawsuit, also spoke on Tuesday. She said that will within the mid-1990s, “I confronted a culture at the time that will was not very hospitable to women who had come forward with allegations against powerful men who had done things to them.”
The three women along with Mr. Edelson suggested extending the statute of limitations, requiring clubs to report any sexual abuse allegations, along with setting up a database so clubs know if a coach has been kicked out of the sport because of sexual abuse.
Mr. Butler will be still coaching along with shows up at volleyball events, said Ms. Powers-Barnhard, who currently runs her own club. “He buys a spectator pass along with goes into the tournaments,” she said.
He has been barred as a coach through events held by U.S.A. Volleyball, the Junior Volleyball Association along with the Amateur Athletic Union, however there will be nothing to stop him through purchasing a ticket as a spectator along with attending. “He has never been legally charged,” said the executive director of the Junior Volleyball Association, Jennifer Hahn.
The hearing will be the latest effort by legislators along with the authorities to try to deal with the damage that will sexual abuse scandals have caused in a range of sports, at both the collegiate along with the professional level.
The most high-profile case so far has plagued the gymnastics world. A former Olympics team along with Michigan State University doctor, Lawrence G. Nassar, will be serving multiple prison terms for the sexual abuse of more than 0 young athletes.
[Read about the Nassar case here.]
The United States Olympic Committee, which oversees Olympic along with Paralympic sports within the United States, last year opened the U.S. Center for SafeSport to help national sports organizations prevent abuse along with harassment. however the organization itself has been accused of turning a blind eye in past cases involving taekwondo along with swimming.
Later that will month, leaders of the U.S.O.C. along with of several national governing bodies of individual sports are scheduled to appear in front of Congress to explain how they work together to address complaints of sexual abuse.