Attorneys helping survivors of sexual abuse in athletic sports
Regardless of the sport, athletes spend countless hours training their bodies through exercise, nutrition, and discipline to be the best they can be. Athletes put their trust in coaches, doctors, and physical therapists to help them ensure their bodies are performing at the highest level and to heal any injuries that may occur. When a coach or doctor breaches that trust by initiating inappropriate sexual contact with the athlete, the impact can be devastating. Sexual abuse can happen to male and female athletes of all ages. Reports of sexual abuse in sports include pre-teen adolescents up to young adult athletes. Sexual abuse in organized sports can occur on the high school, collegiate, Olympic, and professional levels. Sexual abuse includes any kind of inappropriate touching, sexual suggestions, sharing or taking inappropriate photos or videos, or exposing oneself to a patient athlete. While coaches and doctors do hold a position of authority for athletes, they do not have the right to force sexual contact on an athlete in exchange for allowing them to play their sport.
The trauma a survivor of sexual abuse goes through can cause severe emotional and psychological problems including anxiety, depression- including suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is imperative that survivors seek the help of mental health professionals who can provide therapies to set them on a path to healing.
USA GYMNASTICS ATHLETE SEXUAL ABUSE
One of the largest cases of sexual abuse of athletes involved USA Gymnastics and former team doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused of sexually abusing nearly 300 female athletes. As team doctor, Nassar was put in a position of authority over hundreds of Olympic hopeful athletes. He groomed these female athletes by giving them gifts and words of encouragement and preyed on their desire to earn a spot on the national team.
In addition to USA Gymnastics, Nassar also served as a team physician and assistant professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.
The USA Gymnastics sexual assault cases are one example of the severe impact sexual abuse can have on children and developing adolescents. The athletes in these cases trusted the recommendation and advice of their coaches to be treated by a staff physician. These coaches and the sports organization failed to safeguard these children from the abuse inflicted by the physician. Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims with more than 300 women who said they were sexually abused by former school sports doctor Larry Nassar. Claims against USA Gymnastics tied to Nassar’s work for the organization and U.S. Olympic team forced the organization to file for bankruptcy. Many of these athletes will require on-going psychiatric therapy to cope with the trauma the sexual abuse has had and will have on their lives moving forward.
The USA Gymnastics story broke after a group of three journalists from the Indianapolis Star conducted an investigation into Indiana school systems that failed to report sexual abuse by officials. During that investigation, a source told Marisa Kwiatowski to look into USA Gymnastics. From that tip Kwiatowski along with Mark Alesia and Tim Evans, all journalists with the Indianapolis Star uncovered one of the largest sexual abuse coverups involving athletes. Many of these survivors demonstrated a great deal of courage to come forward and share their stories. Equally important was the support they received from people they trusted their stories with. Without both courage and belief Nassar would have remained in place and continued to sexually abuse athletes.
Help for survivors of athlete sexual abuse
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, contact us. Our attorneys have experience handling sexual abuse claims against schools, organizations and groups and can help your family on the path to healing. We understand the sensitive nature of this type of lawsuit and prioritize our clients’ privacy and trust while fighting to get them the compensation they need to assist them in healing and coping with sexual abuse.
Help for survivors of other types of sexual abuse
We are proud to help families heal through the legal pursuit of sexual abuse claims. We have investigated and/or helped sexual abuse survivors in a variety of claims.
- Adult on child sexual abuse
- Daycare sexual abuse
- Child-on-child sexual abuse
- Church sexual abuse
- Doctor on patient sexual abuse
- Nursing home sexual abuse
- Residential treatment center sexual abuse
- School or extracurricular activity sexual abuse
- Ohio State University athlete sexual abuse
- UCLA gynecologist sexual abuse