Abuse and Sexual Assault
Sexual abuse in sports is a critical issue that impacts athletes at all levels, from local teams to Olympians on the international stage. This abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to inappropriate physical contact, sexual harassment, and exploitation of power dynamics by coaches, staff, or fellow athletes. Athletes, especially young and vulnerable ones, often find themselves in situations where they are at risk, and the competitive, high-pressure environment of sports can sometimes foster a culture where abuse is overlooked or unaddressed.
The courage of survivors who speak out against sexual abuse in sports cannot be overstated. It takes immense bravery to come forward in an environment that often values success and reputation, potentially at the expense of athlete welfare. These survivors not only face personal challenges in their recovery but also often risk their careers and face social stigma. Their strength in sharing their stories paves the way for change and opens the doors for others to come forward.Our Sexual Abuse Lawyers Fight For Systemic Change
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., our commitment to survivors of sexual abuse in sports is deeply rooted in our dedication to justice, change, and healing. Leading our efforts is Attorney Robert Allard, an attorney whose work in the field of athlete sexual abuse, particularly within the Olympic Movement, has been groundbreaking and transformative.
Our role in advocating for survivors goes beyond the courtroom. We believe that positive change can emerge from tragedy. This philosophy has driven our efforts in enacting new laws and forcing institutions to adopt stronger child protection rules and procedures. Our litigation efforts, including a high-profile case against USA Swimming, have directly strengthened child protection programs within the Olympic Movement and youth sports. These include expanded background checks, mandated training, and clearer reporting mechanisms.
Some of our most notable cases and successes include:
Choosing Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P. means partnering with a team led by a lawyer whose dedication, expertise, and integrity have been proven in the fight against sexual abuse in sports. Our approach is trauma-informed, empathetic, and focused on individual justice and broader systemic change.Understanding Sexual Abuse in Sports
Sexual abuse in sports refers to any sexual conduct that is non-consensual or where consent cannot be given (due to age or power imbalance), including unwanted sexual touching, harassment, exploitation, or assault. It can occur in various sports settings and involves athletes of all ages.
This can range from inappropriate comments and advances by coaches, staff, or fellow athletes to more severe cases like sexual assault. It also includes situations where athletes are coerced into sexual relationships due to unequal power dynamics.Power Dynamics in Sports That Can Contribute to Abuse
The inherent power imbalance between coaches and athletes, where the coach holds significant influence over the athlete's career and opportunities, can create an environment ripe for abuse. Athletes, especially young or aspiring ones, may depend on their abusers for training, opportunities, and support, complicating the dynamics of reporting abuse.
In many sports organizations, there is also a strict hierarchy that can discourage athletes from speaking out against higher-ranked individuals. This culture also prioritizes winning and reputation over athlete welfare and contributes to silence around abuse, making it difficult for survivors to come forward.
We understand the difficulties you face when trying to come forward after suffering sexual abuse in sports. That’s why we listen without judgment and offer you a safe and private place to discuss what happened to you. When you call our law firm, you take a step towards healing. This might not include filing a lawsuit, but you have that option. When you meet with us, we’ll discuss your legal options and help you make the decision that is best for you and your recovery.The Impact of Sexual Abuse on Survivors
Sexual abuse impacts young athletes in many different ways. Survivors often experience severe trauma, which can manifest as mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). This trauma is intricately linked to issues of trust, as survivors may find it increasingly difficult to trust others, leading to significant challenges in personal relationships. Alongside these trust issues, many survivors grapple with low self-esteem and a tendency to blame themselves for the abuse, which can result in a profound sense of diminished self-worth.
This psychological toll has a direct and lasting impact on personal and athletic development. For athletes, the emotional aftermath of abuse can severely hinder their concentration and motivation, negatively affecting their performance and potentially disrupting their career paths. Sometimes, the trauma is so overwhelming that athletes may leave their sport prematurely.
The impact is not confined to athletic pursuits alone; for younger athletes, academic performance and interest in education can also suffer. In their social lives, survivors might withdraw and isolate themselves, impacting their ability to work within a team and their overall social development.
No matter how your abuse occurred, it is not your fault. Nothing you did contributed to the trauma you suffered. Let us help you hold your abuser accountable so that you can reclaim your power and move forward.Fighting Back After Sexual Abuse in Sports
Survivors of sexual abuse in sports deserve justice and closure. One of the ways they can do this is by holding negligent coaches, sports organizations, and institutions accountable for their actions or inactions that contributed to the abuse.
You can file a civil lawsuit against your abuser and possibly against the sports organization or institution for failing to protect them. This can lead to compensation for the harm suffered, which might cover medical expenses, therapy costs, lost income, and other damages related to the abuse. In some cases, criminal charges may also be brought against the abuser, which is a separate process handled by the criminal justice system.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we play a pivotal role in guiding survivors through this process. Our firm handles these sensitive cases with the utmost care and professionalism. We work closely with survivors, ensuring they understand each step of the legal journey. Our goal is to alleviate the burden on the survivor, handling the legal complexities while they focus on their healing journey. We stand by our clients, fighting tirelessly to ensure that those responsible for the abuse and the institutions that enabled it are held accountable. Our dedication to our clients goes beyond seeking compensation; it's about restoring a sense of justice and contributing to broader changes in sports organizations to prevent future abuse.Laws and Policies That Protect Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse
There are several key laws in place designed to protect athletes from sexual abuse. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives federal money. It's been instrumental in addressing sexual harassment and abuse in school-based sports programs, ensuring equal protection for all students.
The SafeSport Act (Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017) expanded the mandatory reporting requirements for sexual abuse to national governing bodies and affiliated organizations in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements. It also established the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent body investigating and resolving sexual misconduct allegations in the Olympic and Paralympic community.Who Can Be Held Accountable When Sexual Abuse in Sports Occurs?
When sexual abuse occurs in sports, responsibility and accountability can extend beyond the individual perpetrator. Various parties may be held responsible, depending on the circumstances of the abuse:
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we seek to uncover not just the actions of the individual abuser but also any systemic failures or negligence that allowed the abuse to happen. The goal is to hold all responsible parties accountable and implement changes to prevent future abuse in sports settings.We Will Stand By You
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse in sports, please know that you are not alone and that what happened is not your fault. The journey towards healing and justice begins with a single, brave step forward. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we are committed to standing by your side every step of the way.
We understand the difficulties in coming forward and how difficult it might be to face your abuser. That's why we are here to guide you through every stage of the process with empathy, respect, and expertise. Our commitment to you goes beyond the courtroom – we strive to be a source of support, empowerment, and advocacy.
Contact Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P. today for a confidential consultation. Together, we can seek the justice you deserve and work towards a safer future in sports. Your story matters, and we are here to listen.