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Seattle Lawyers for Sexual Abuse by Coaches Claims

Holding coaches, schools, and organizations accountable for sexually abusing children

Children who participate in any athletic or social activity trust that their coaches and supervisors will treat them with dignity and respect. When a coach or manager breaks that trust by sexually assaulting or abusing a child, our Seattle sexual abuse lawyers have the experience and resources to hold the abusers and anyone who should have stopped the assault or abuse from happening accountable in a court of law or through a legal settlement. At Smith McBroom, we help your child get the physical and emotional help they need. We show how the assault/abuse occurred and what steps should have been taken to prevent the sexual misconduct. Contact us to assert your child’s right to dignity and compensation.

Free Case Evaluation

Call 206-677-5941 now or fill out the form above to receive a free, confidential consultation.

How common is sexual abuse in youth sports?

According to Psychology Today,  sexual abuse of children is all too common. Psychology Today references data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows that: “About one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.” Most abusers are someone the child knows and trusts.

The time that coaches (school, youth organizations, or other organizations such as churches and competitive events) spend alone with children should be minimized. Psychology Today recommends that:

  • Schools and youth organizations forbid coaches from being alone with children, showering with a young person after competitions or events, or driving children home unless they have the permission of the child’s parents
  • Schools and youth organizations should require that there be at least two coaches present for activities away from home or school
  • Congratulations should be limited to verbal praise and high-fives – but not hugging or patting a child on the rear

Sadly, there have been too many cases involving the sexual abuse of young children such as the cases of the women’s gymnastics team against their former coach Larry Nassar. NBC News reported in 2024 that the US DOJ agreed to pay $138 million (based on 139 claims) to Nassar’s sexual abuse victims. Nassar sexually abused over 300 gymnasts while providing medical care for them.

Other settlements involving the failure of institutions to protect the gymnasts include:

  • Michigan State University, which employed Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million.

USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committed agreed to pay $380 million to the victims.

When and why does sexual abuse by coaches occur?

The relationship between a coach and a young athlete, a young artist, a young scout, or a youth participating in any coached activity is NOT equal. The power of a coach is physical – coaches are taller, heavier, and stronger. Coaches are responsible for the success of the young athlete, musician, or other youth participant – which means the youth has no choice but to rely on the older coach for learning skills, being chosen for teams, bands, or other activities, and for their individual success.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, coaches “exercise power over athletes, whether in giving them praise or criticism, evaluating them, making recommendations that further their athletic goals or conferring any other benefits on them.” The unequal relationship between coach and youth means that any relationship between a coach and youth is suspect.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation states that many youth participants don’t recognize abuse or abuse until they’re trapped.

Many youth participants who suffer sexual harassment and abuse are afraid to report sexual misconduct fearing not being believed, blamed, ostracized, and/or forced off their team or youth activity. Many schools and youth organizations don’t have policies and procedures in place to prevent sexual abuse, encourage the reporting of sexual abuse, investigate sexual abuse, and discipline the abuser.

Many schools and organizations focus on preserving their reputation instead of protecting the students and youth participants. Most students don’t understand that they have legal rights. Many youth participants don’t want to upset their parents by reporting the abuse or don’t want to disappoint their parents by failing to make the team if they refuse a coach’s sexual advances.

What injuries do children and young adults suffer due to sexual assaults and abuse?

The effects of sexual harassment and abuse are many. Many female athletes experience numerous adverse psychological consequences, including, per the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, “difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem, substance abuse, body image issues and disordered eating, feelings of powerlessness, self-harm, and suicide.” McKayla Maroney, a sexual abuse victim of Larry Nassar said, “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

The physical consequences can include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and weight changes, which can affect the youth’s athletic performance. The emotional consequences can cause youth participants to: “Change their behavior, dress, and regular routine; seek counselling for psychological problems; change attitudes towards coaches and men in general; lose interest in sports; and/or leave the sport due to the harassment endured.”

Who is accountable for sexual assault/abuse by coaches and supervisors?

At Smith McBroom, we file civil claims against the abuser and any people or entities with a duty to protect your child and failed to do so.

Often, the coach, teacher, supervisor, or other person who sexually abuses a child will be charged with criminal offenses. Our Seattle sexual abuse lawyers coordinate your child’s civil claim with the prosecutor’s criminal case.

The school or organization that runs the youth activity also has a responsibility to protect your child. Schools, community organizations, church organizations, and other entities that employ coaches for athletics, cultural activities, or social activities can be liable for sexual abuse by a coach if they fail to:

  • Run background checks on the coaches
  • Respond to any complaints by students or parents about the coach
  • Implement policies and procedures to minimize the time any child spends alone with a coach
  • Immediately discipline or terminate any coach who sexually harasses or abuses a child
  • Comply with the applicable federal and Washington sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape laws

Our Seattle sexual assault and abuse lawyers demand compensation for your child’s:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional suffering
  • Medical expenses which may include a lifetime of psychological counseling
  • Loss of life’s pleasures
  • Any income loss
  • Any sexual injuries, including sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies

We also seek punitive damages against the coach and against schools and youth organizations if the organization’s conduct was unconscionable.

What laws and regulations protect children and young adults from sexual abuse by coaches?

At Smith McBroom, we begin our review of each sexual abuse case by reviewing whether the coach or the organization responsible for the coach violated any federal or Washington state laws. There are criminal statutes that were enacted to protect children from rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, indecent liberties, and other types of sexual misconduct.

Some laws regulate how educators and organizations are supposed to protect children from sexual abuse:

  • Title IX. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 provides that any institution that receives funds from the US Department of Education (DOE) must operate its educational programs and activities “in a non-discriminatory manner free of discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity.” Many women’s sports organizations benefit from Title IX, which means those organizations have an affirmative duty to protect their participants from sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Title IX is enforced by the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights.
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar and the Safe Sport Act. This law, enacted in 2018, requires that amateur sports organizations must report sexual abuse and implement policies and procedures to protect athletes from sexual abuse. The abuser can be required to pay the victim $150,000 or more if the abuser is found liable in a civil lawsuit.

Do you have a Seattle sexual abuse lawyer near me?

Smith McBroom meets with parents, adults, and children at our Seattle office at 16400 Southcenter Parkway Suite 210. We do meet with clients away from the office when necessary. We also conduct conferences by phone and through video.

We’re experienced at helping young children. We work with child psychologists and sexual abuse professionals. We’ll answer all your questions and fight to hold the perpetrators and other wrongdoers accountable.

Talk with our compassionate Seattle sexual abuse lawyers now

At Smith McBroom, we understand how outrageous it is for any adult to sexually assault or abuse a child. Many children live with a lifetime of emotional trauma when someone they trust commits acts of violence and assaults their dignity. We demand full criminal and civil legal justice against the perpetrators. Our Seattle lawyers work aggressively to hold schools, youth organizations, and others who should have stopped the assault accountable. To schedule a free consultation, please call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’re here to secure your child’s future. We represent sexual abuse victims in Tukwila, Seattle, and across Washington state.