Youth Sports League Sex Abuse Lawyer

When coaches and other athletic staff sexually abuse the athletes under their care, the perpetrator and the organization that employed them may be brought to justice by filing a civil lawsuit. If you are a survivor, learn more about your legal rights below and contact one of our attorneys for a confidential consultation.

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Organized sports can be great for children’s physical, social, and emotional health. However, it is important to keep in mind that children’s organized sports can and do attract individuals with bad intentions, from coaches to team volunteers and even spectators. According to the CDC, roughly 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the United States have been the victim of childhood sex abuse. Youth programs and organizations have a duty to properly screen all coaches and staff. When they fail to do this and a child is sexually abused, the organization could be held liable.

Taking legal action against a sex abuser and their affiliate youth sports league can hold them accountable for their crimes and help protect children in your community in the future. If you suspect your child has been sexually abused or molested, contact the youth sports league sex abuse lawyers of Edwards Pottinger today for a free, confidential legal consultation.

How Common is Youth Sports League Sex Abuse?

The recent case involving the former U.S. women’s gymnastics team doctor Larry Nasser brought renewed national attention to the issue of sex abuse and minors in sports leagues, but the problem is far from a new one. Sexual abuse and molestation occur in all types of sports and to both boys and girls. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), over 55,000 children were sexually abused from April 2016 to March 2017. RAINN also found that amongst child sex abuse cases, 93% of victims personally knew their abuser.

How Does Youth Sports League Sex Abuse Happen?

Youth sports can create an environment that may make it easier for a sexual predator to have one-on-one time with children, like long hours after school or on weekends. Abusers may start slowly with unexpected hugs or a pat on the behind, groom the child by giving them special treatment or making promises, or offer them special attention or gifts. These behaviors are in an attempt to manipulate the victim into thinking he or she and the abuser share love or trust for one another. By doing this, the child is more likely to comply and not report the abuser.

What is Considered Sex Abuse in Youth Sports Leagues?

Youth sports sex abuse can create a lifetime of trauma for a child. Child sex abuse is defined as any form of sexual contact with a minor, physical or non-physical. Forms of child sex abuse listed by RAINN include:

  • Fondling or inappropriate physical contact
  • Exposing oneself to a minor
  • Intercourse
  • Masturbating in front of a minor
  • Sending sexually explicit text messages to a child
  • Sending sexually explicit photos to a child
  • Forcing a child to send or watch pornographic photos or videos

What are Warning Signs of Youth Sports League Sex Abuse?

Parents of children in sports leagues should look out for behavioral and physical signs of sex abuse. Often children may not have the words to express what is happening to them or understand that it is abuse. That is why it is important to note sudden behavioral changes such as:

  • Fear of being alone with certain people
  • Unexplained anger
  • Desire to quit their sports team
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Decrease in grades and performance
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Nightmares and inability to speak

In addition, some physical signs of possible abuse include:

  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Genital injuries
  • Unexplained bruises and scratches

Parents should also be vigilant of their child’s coach’s behavior. If your child is bringing home unexplained gifts, if their coach is trying to be overly involved in your child’s life, or has age-inappropriate relationships, these could also be signs of sexual abuse.

If your child is showing any of these signs or if you are now an adult and realize you may have been sexually abused as a child, contact the youth sports league sex abuse lawyers of Edwards Pottinger today to speak with a qualified sex abuse attorney and understand your legal options.

How Can Youth Sports Leagues Help Prevent Sex Abuse?

Youth organizations have an obligation to their members to protect them from harm. For youth sports leagues, this means taking measures to prevent sexual abuse including:

  • Adequately vetting and screening: All coaches and staff should be properly background checked
  • Training and prevention policies: All adults involved with youth sports leagues should undergo training to understand the signs of sexual abuse, what they can do to prevent it, and how they can report it to the organization.
  • Clear reporting protocol: Both parents and their children involved in sports leagues should be informed of a clear way to report abuse to ensure it is not difficult for the child to come forward.

What is the Safe Sport Act?

Congress passed the Protecting Young Victims From Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, called the Safe Sport Act for short, in order to prevent sex abuse of child athletes by implementing requirements to report incidents to law enforcement. The Safe Sports Act allows victims to sue their abusers for damages. Contact the child sex abuse lawyers of Edwards Pottinger to discuss the statute of limitations for a youth sports team sex abuse lawsuit in your state.

Can a Youth Sports League be Held Liable for Child Sex Abuse?

According to the Safe Sport Act, survivors have the right to hold youth sports organizations responsible for sexual abuse in a civil lawsuit. In civil cases, the victim has to prove that the defendant was negligent and that its negligence contributed to the sex abuse.

In most cases, if it can be proved that the organization was negligent in its hiring and screening process or failed to protect the minor, the organization can be held liable. In criminal child sports league sex abuse cases, the abuser himself or herself will be held liable.

How Can a Youth Sports League Sex Abuse Lawyer Help Me?

Survivors of child sex abuse need a unique level of compassion and empathy from a lawyer. They may need years of therapy and other mental and emotional support services in order to fully heal from the trauma that child sex abuse can cause. An experienced child sex abuse lawyer can help you hold the abuser accountable while also remaining sensitive to your needs throughout the litigation.

An experienced child sex abuse attorney will assist you through the legal process by:

  • Investigating and gathering all evidence relating to the abuse, including any potential negligence from the relevant youth sports league
  • Consulting with expert witnesses in order to build a strong case
  • Advocating on your behalf throughout the legal process and in a trial if necessary
  • Fighting to obtain the maximum compensation possible to ensure that justice is served and to help you begin to feel whole again

Contact Us

At Edwards Pottinger, our child sports league sex abuse attorneys are nationally recognized for their efforts to hold child sex abusers accountable and achieve justice on behalf of victims. Our sex abuse lawyers have a long history of success in defending the rights of victims and won many multi-million dollar settlements, including a $70 million jury decision in a yacht rape lawsuit.

If you or a loved one are a survivor of child sex abuse, contact the youth sports league sex abuse lawyers of Edwards Pottinger today for a free confidential case review.

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