While most of us gaze at athletes with wonder and admiration, some individuals are not well intentioned and abuse their positions (and the athlete’s trust) to satisfy their base desires at the athletes’ expense. Strong women and men have come forward in recent years to courageously share their experience of sexual abuse or assault during their sports career.
Often trainers, coaches, and others in the field are held with high regards as talented, distinguished mentors. Unfortunately, some of those individuals have undermined athletes like you by inflicting lasting trauma. If you are an athlete who experienced sexual harassment or abuse, or had a similar experience while working elsewhere in the sports industry, the time to pursue justice is now.
Whistleblower Law Group is ready to help you collect financial compensation for sexual harassment in sports. Call us at 877.858.8018 or via [hidden email].
Determined Representation for Victims of Sexual Harassment in Sports
At Whistleblower Law Group, we understand how pervasive the problem is. Sexual harassment and abuse in sports has been documented at every level of competition, including:
- High school sports
- Little League and youth sports
- NCAA college programs
- Semi-professional and professional sports leagues
- Sport camps
- Youth travel teams
Perpetrators of sexual harassment and abuse are most often:
- Athletic office personnel
- Coaches and assistants
- Peer athletes
- Prominent athletes
- Team physicians
Young athletes with high aspirations are under pressure to perform and are vulnerable to psychological pressure. Abusers are natural manipulators, using lies, flattery, false promises, and threats to prey on victims. In addition to the athletes themselves, sports media is rife with sexual harassment: female sports reporters and production interns are prime targets of abuse.
Sexual Harassment In Sports: An Olympian Problem
Sexual abuse undermines the essential purpose of sports, which is to build character and impart life lessons while pursuing athletic excellence. Instead of being edified and uplifted, victims of abuse are torn down and stripped of their dignity.
In recent times, USA Gymnastics provides a prime example of the harm that occurs when an organization fails to protect its athletes from abuse. Beginning in September 2016, more than 368 persons, most of whom had been underage girls at the time, alleged they had been sexually assaulted by gym owners, coaches, and staff working for gymnastics programs across the country. These horrific stories went back two decades.
More than 250 girls came forward to accuse longtime USAG osteopath Larry Nasser of sexually assaulting them. In 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges, followed by guilty pleas to several charges of first-degree sexual assault. Nasser was ultimately sentenced to several hundred years in prison and is now incarcerated at United States Penitentiary, Coleman.
Yet, long before the news broke about Nasser, et al., officials of the USAG and other organizations training Olympic hopefuls knew there was a systemic problem. In 2007, The International Olympic Committee had issued a Consensus Statement, which asserted that “sexual harassment and abuse happen in all sports… at all levels,” and that such practices were more prevalent in “elite sport.” Those responsible tended to be “members of the athlete’s entourage who are in positions of power and authority,” but “peer athletes have also been identified as perpetrators.”
The IOC report confirmed that “sexual harassment and abuse in sport seriously and negatively impact… athletes’ physical and psychological health.” Consequences include “impaired performance and … athlete drop-out,” as well as “serious health consequences,” such as “psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide….”
Unfortunately, little was done to protect the athletes. Although USAG instituted mandatory background checks for coaches in 2007, there was still a culture of dismissiveness that protected suspect coaches and placed athletes in danger of abuse.
Federal Law Protects Athletes from Sexual Harassment and Abuse
Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects student-athletes from sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse within sports programs at institutions that receive federal funding. If you are a college or high school athlete, and your school receives some form of federal funding, you may be able to file a federal lawsuit.
Under Title IX, an institution would not only be liable for sexual harassment by a coach but could be held liable for failing to act if, as so often happens, a male athlete had sexually assaulted a female athlete.
Professional athletes who suffer sexual harassment can rely on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from engaging in sexual discrimination in the workplace. Title VII protects employees from quid pro quo sexual harassment, which occurs when a superior conditions on-the-job treatment on whether the employee responds favorably to sexual advances.
It also outlaws hostile environment harassment, the type that happens when the atmosphere of a workplace is so sexually charged that workers cannot comfortably do their job. Title VII also protects female sports reporters and interns who are harassed on the job.
In certain situations, where federal law does not apply, a victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for sexual assault. The victim could name a facility or organization as a defendant if they were negligent for not properly screening a predatory coach or another employee, or if the organization had failed to investigate previous complaints.
Act Now to Secure Your Financial Compensation for Sexual Harassment
Victims of sexual harassment in sports are subject to strict time limits to take action. As soon as an incident occurs, you should contact a Whistleblower Law Group sexual harassment lawyer so that we evaluate your case and begin protecting your rights. For a free, confidential consultation about your case with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer, contact us today: 877.858.8018 or [hidden email]