According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating wide-ranging allegations of sexual abuse in U.S. Olympic sport organizations.
The recent sexual abuse case against USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sparked additional investigations into the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a non-profit that was set up in 2017 to handle allegations of abuse in Olympic sports.
The investigation focuses on failures of the U.S. Olympic system to address wide-spread allegations of sexual abuse, and the impact of power dynamics in the billion-dollar U.S. Olympic system. Olympic-hopeful athletes are susceptible to exploitation because they are often underage and are at the mercy of coaches, governing bodies, and the USOPC.
The presidents of sports governing bodies often wield enormous power, in some cases serving as an agent for endorsement deals and organizing post-Olympic tours.
In addition to the USOPC, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the federal investigation is also focusing on USA Gymnastics, USA Taekwondo, and other sport governing bodies that have mishandled abuse cases.
In a separate investigation, the DOJ’s public-integrity unit is investigating how the FBI handled allegations of Dr. Nassar’s abuse in the USA Gymnastics case.
Civil Liability for Failing to Prevent Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse can have lifelong consequences for its victims. Young people who have suffered from sexual abuse may experience low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and may attempt to engage in self-harm. In many cases, the tragic results of childhood sexual abuse take years to manifest.
In addition to criminal liability, sports governing organizations, Olympic organizations, universities, high schools, and other institutions can face civil liability for failing to investigate allegations of sexual abuse.
Organizations that work with children are required to have policies and procedures in place to keep young people safe, and must investigate allegations of sexual abuse.
If an organization fails take adequate steps to prevent sexual abuse, or fails to properly investigate allegations of sexual abuse, the organization responsible can be held civilly liable.
Victims of sexual abuse may be entitled to monetary compensation from the organization that failed to prevent the sexual abuse. Compensation may include payment for:
- Costs of therapy and medical treatment
- Damage to family relationships
- Lost wages
- Psychological injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
A criminal conviction is not necessary for a victim of sexual abuse to proceed with a civil claim.
There are important differences between criminal charges and a civil claim for damages. Perhaps most important is that the burden of proof is lower in a civil case than in a criminal case.
In Ohio, victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they reach age 30 to file a claim for monetary damages against their abuser. If the abuse was concealed, that period can be even longer.
Civil claims for sexual abuse also have long statutes of limitations. In Ohio, victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they reach age 30 to file a claim for monetary damages against their abuser. If the abuse was concealed, that period can be even longer.
Robenalt Law Fights for Victims of Sexual Abuse
The experienced trial lawyers at Robenalt Law fight for victims of sexual abuse, and work hard to bring abusers and the organizations that employ them to justice.
While no amount of money can adequately make up for the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, victims are entitled to justice.
At Robenalt Law, we have helped victims of sexual abuse obtain financial compensation across the country, even if there was no criminal conviction.
Every case is unique, and the only way to determine whether you have a case is to consult with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer. The lawyers at Robenalt Law have extensive experience helping people who were victims of sexual abuse, and holding abusers accountable.
While financial compensation will never make up for what happened, it can help pay for medical and psychological treatment, compensate for damage to family relationships, and much more.
Robenalt Law handles civil sexual abuse cases on a contingency fee, which means that there is no payment unless we recover money for you.
If you were a victim of sexual abuse, contact the experienced Ohio sexual abuse lawyers at Robenalt Law today to schedule a free consultation. Call us at (216) 233-7573, email [email protected], or complete our online form.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career at a large firm in Cleveland where he defended institutions and employees accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured as a result of sexual abuse.