In many child sexual abuse cases, the abuser is someone the child knew, trusted and developed a bond with such as a youth sports coach. Survivors may suffer from psychological trauma that prevents them from immediately reporting what happened. They may also fear retaliation from the coach, teammates or members of a community where the coach may be a highly respected and beloved figure. As a result, survivors may be unable to come forward about the sexual abuse until many years later.
Under the New York Child Victims Act, those survivors now have the ability to hold their abusers and the youth sports teams and organizations that enabled their abusers accountable for the serious harm they have suffered. In particular, the new law:
- Gives victims until they reach age 55 to bring civil claims against the abusers and organizations responsible for their sexual abuse.
- Allows victims whose claims were previously time-barred to bring their civil claims during a one-year “look-back” period, which runs from August 14, 2019 to August 13, 2020.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we are now reviewing the claims of those who were sexually abused as minors by youth sports coaches. We know how challenging it can be for survivors to come forward and demand justice. If a youth sports coach sexually abused you or a family member, we are here to take the journey towards justice with you. We will provide the skilled and compassionate legal assistance that you need at every step along that journey.
To learn more, contact us today for a free and confidential review of your case. Our nationally recognized law firm has offices in Albany, Syracuse and Rochester. We work with clients throughout New York state.
Recent USA Gymnastics Scandal Cast Light on Sexual Abuse Problem in Sports
In recent years, several stories have emerged about sexual abuse committed by coaches at all levels of sports – youth, high school and college. However, the scandal involving USA Gymnastics may have garnered the most attention. It also led to Congressional action.
According to an investigative report by USA Today and The Indianapolis Star an estimated 368 gymnasts allege that they were the victims of some form of sexual abuse “at the hands of their coaches, gym owners and other adults … And it’s likely an undercount.” Even worse, the newspapers report that top USA Gymnastics officials often failed to report the abuse to police. As a result, predatory coaches were allowed to move from gym to gym, undetected by a lax system of oversight, or dangerously passed on by USA Gymnastics-certified gyms.” One individual, Larry Nassar, is now serving federal prison time for his numerous sexual assaults of gymnasts during his time at Michigan State and as the national gymnastics team doctor.
In the aftermath of the USA Gymnastics scandal, Congress passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. The law requires certain officials to report suspected sexual abuse within 24 hours of learning of it. It also extends the statute of limitations for minors who are victims of a federal sexual offense to file a civil claim to 10 years after they turn age 18.
Child Sexual Abuse Can Occur in Many Sports and in Many Different Forms
While the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal grabbed national attention, the reality is that similar abuse happens in communities in New York and across the country in many different sports and in a wide range of forms. As the National Alliance for Youth Sports notes, many sexual predators act on their impulses “when they step forward to volunteer to coach and gain access to children.” They use the strong bond that often forms between a young athlete and coach to groom and manipulate their victims. As a result, sexual abuse can occur in youth sports settings such as:
- Swimming and diving
- Other team sports such as soccer, baseball, softball and football
- Club or recreation-level sports
- School-sponsored sports.
Even though a coach is often the abuser, sexual abuse can be committed by many other individuals associated with a youth sports team or youth sports organization. Team trainers and doctors, for instance, may take advantage of their access to young athletes. Teammates can also commit sexual abuse. For instance, many athletes suffer sexual assault as a result of hazing, Forbes notes.
The problem is compounded by the failure of youth sports teams and organizations to take proper steps to prevent sexual abuse of minors or to adequately respond to it. For example, an organization may fail to conduct a background check before bringing coaches, staff members or volunteers into the fold, or it may fail to promptly report suspected or known cases of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities. In the worst cases, a school or organization may intentionally turn a blind eye to sexual abuse or take steps to conceal it in an attempt to protect its reputation.
Our New York Youth Sports Coach Sexual Abuse Lawyers Are Here for You
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we are committed to holding coaches, trainers and others accountable for the sexual abuse of minors in youth sports, including the organizations that allowed the abuse to happen. The New York Child Victims Act now provides a path for survivors to bring civil claims against those parties and seek the justice they deserve, including compensation for the physical and emotional harm they have suffered through the years as a result of the abuse.
Our legal team includes former Special Victims Unit law enforcement officers who have handled hundreds of sexual abuse cases over the course of their careers. They know how to thoroughly investigate these cases. At the same time, they know how to treat sexual abuse survivors with sensitivity and compassion.
If you or a family member suffered childhood sexual abuse by a youth sports coach in New York, regardless of how long ago it may have occurred, contact us today. You will discuss your case with an experienced attorney in a timely, free and confidential consultation.