Sexual abuse in youth tennis

When a player reports sexual abuse in youth tennis, one of the biggest obstacles is ensuring that the sports organization holds that coach accountable. Unfortunately, in many cases, organizations protect the tennis coach instead of the player. Complaints of sexual misconduct stay within the organization, never formally resolved or criminally investigated by the police. 

In 2014, a new initiative to protect players from abuse was created with all governing sports committees expected to participate. The U.S. Olympic Committee noted that every sport agreed to participate except one, the United States Tennis Association or U.S.T.A. Gordon Smith, U.S.T.A.’s executive director and C.O.O. at the time, felt that sports associations could opt-out of an oversight committee if they could “police themselves.” 

However, U.S.T.A. proved that they could not police themselves since one coach, Normandie Burgos, was arrested repeatedly for sexually abusing his male players. U.S.T.A. never took any action against Burgos, who was eventually sentenced to 255 years in prison for the sexual crimes he committed against his tennis players.

The Burgos case highlights the problems within sports organizations. They are often unwilling to conduct thorough background checks or hold coaches accountable for crimes they have committed.

According to the U.S.T.A. website on February 4, 2021, “the individuals below are subject to measures imposed by the United States Tennis Association Incorporated (USTA) and/or the U.S. Center for SafeSport pursuant to its authority under the Bylaws of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and SafeSport Authorization Act of 2017, and the USTA.”

Name State Published Misconduct Respondent Status
Anibal "Anibal Aranda" Aranda Villalba FL Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment On Probation
Colin Sullivan MN Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Daniel Wilson MN Criminal Disposition Ineligible
Donald Gagnon Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Doug Overmyer IL Criminal Disposition Ineligible
Douglas Booth FL (Subject to appeal / not yet final), Sexual Misconduct – involving Minors Permanently Ineligible
George Carlyle MN Criminal Disposition – Sexual Misconduct Ineligible
James Natale FL Criminal Disposition Suspended
Jason Bettuo KY Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Javier Pozo MO Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Jean-Romel Cyril NV Criminal Disposition – Sexual Misconduct Ineligible
Kevin Rust MN Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Kieran Townsend MN Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Mark O’Neill PA Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Maurice Thomas-Riley CT Criminal Disposition Ineligible
Nathan "Nate" McLain MN Criminal Disposition – Sexual Misconduct Ineligible
Noel Callaghan CO Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Normandie Burgos CA Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Patrick Khandroo CA Criminal Disposition – Sexual Misconduct, Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Rex Haultain MO Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Robert Love KY Allegations of Misconduct Suspended
Roberto DeFreitas MN
TX
Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor On Probation
Sayed Amir CA Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Ineligible
Sean Sueno HI Sexual Misconduct – involving a Minor, Intimate Relationship – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Sylvester "Robbye" Poole III FL Criminal Disposition On Probation
Thomas Rouse OR Criminal Disposition – involving a Minor Permanently Ineligible
Victor Villareal NM Criminal Disposition Ineligible
William Scandalis CA Sexual Misconduct Permanently Ineligible

As a consequence of U.S.T.A. turning a blind eye to Burgos, the tennis victim sued U.S.T.A for failing to take action to protect them against Burgos. 

USTA Sex Abuse New York Times

Another case involved a victim reporting the sexual abuse she experienced as a tennis player at Poly Prep Country Day School in New York. Despite experiencing sexual abuse in the 1980s, her case was investigated under New York’s Child Victim Act. William Martire, who runs a youth tennis camp, had been accused of forcing young players to give him oral sex. The victim, who did not report the crimes to her parents, quit the tennis team and was afraid to report it to school officials because Martire was a “school icon” and felt that administrators would not believe her. 

When an unrelated sex abuse case was filed against Poly Prep, the victim spoke up about her own sexual abuse experience at the school. “Both lawsuits name Poly Prep itself in addition to the teacher and coach because the suits claim that in both instances there is reason to believe that faculty at the school knew of the alleged abuse and failed to act to protect the children.” 

Once again, it is unfortunate that another victim of youth tennis sexual abuse felt that no one with the power and authority to stop a sexual predator would seriously take a complaint.

In the era of MeToo, victims need to be given the benefit of the doubt, especially when there are claims of sexual abuse between an adult and a young child. 

If you are a survivor of youth tennis sexual abuse or sexual assault, call our Athlete Abuse attorneys for a free and 100% confidential consultation.

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