AAU Lets Alleged Sexual Predator Coach Girls’ Volleyball Alongside Former Victim, Lawsuit Says
ORLANDO, FL (June 23, 2016) – A well-publicized alleged sexual predator is coaching a girl’s volleyball team this weekend, just feet away from where his victim is also coaching her team at the 43rd Amateur Athletics Union Junior National Volleyball Championships at the Orlando Convention Center, which runs through Sunday.
Miami Attorney Ronald Weil of Weil Quaranta in Miami and Los Angeles filed a 10-page suit today in Orange County District Court, seeking compensatory damages and relief for Sarah Powers-Barnhard, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The suit alleges that she was one of several victims of Butler’s from 1982 to 1984. She went on to a distinguished career as a player and coach, but the suit says she has been treated for depression as a direct result of Butler’s abuse.
Further, the suit says, in 1995 Butler was banned from USA Volleyball-sanctioned or sponsored events, though he was readmitted to serve in a restricted administrative capacity five years later. Now, the suit says, they are both coaching in the same event.
The suit says: “Plaintiff is unable to shepherd her team to a national title without having to see and/or be in contact with Butler—her sexual abuser.”
The two-count suit alleges violation of Florida’s Unfair Trade and Deceptive Practices Act, and negligence.
Sarah Powers-Barnhard v. Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, 9th Judicial Circuit, Orange County, Fla., Case No. 43146151
The suit cites the AAU’s Children Protection Handbook barring membership to people accused of sexual misconduct. That handbook stresses that “An imbalance of power is always assumed between a coach and an athlete.” The suit says the AAU “deceptively promotes the organization’s policy to deny participation in the AAU to any individual for whom there is reasonable cause to believe that they engaged in sexual misconduct.”
The AAU is based in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near the site of this year’s tournament at the Orlando Convention Center and ESPN.
Says Weil in a separate demand letter: “We remain baffled as to how this set of circumstances has come to be: a coach having been found through due process to have molested children is now competing against his victims in AAU sanctioned events. None of these facts were buried but rather broadly publicized in 1995 and again in 2015.”
The letter continues: “It is further shocking that Sarah must be on the constant lookout at every tournament with her team to protect herself from seeing the man who sexually assaulted her as a child.
Says co-counsel Marci Hamilton, who is also Resident Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Robert A. Fox Leadership Program: “This is another region where children are ignored while powerful men serve their own interests and where female athletes have been coming forward slowly. It’s not easy to do. I applaud Sarah for her strength and her courage.”
Ronald Weil, 305-586-3977 firstname.lastname@example.org www.weilquaranta.com
Michael Padula: 305-372-5352 email@example.com
Marci Hamilton, 215-353-8984 (cell) Hamilton.firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Sell, 305-206-5397 (cell) email@example.com