An Aurora, Illinois man dubbed “the most powerful coach in youth volleyball,” by sports network ESPN is now the center of a potential multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging the coach raped and sexually abused underaged players, the Cook County Record reported. The club volleyball program he was affiliated with is also named in the lawsuit for not protecting athletes from the coach.
U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly, green-lighted the request from plaintiff Laura Mullen to certify the class against coach Rick Butler, the Great Lakes Volleyball Center, and Butler’s Sports Performance Volleyball Club. The class could grow into the hundreds with parents of daughters who participated in the program.
Mullen’s daughters were enrolled in the GVLC programs after 2012, and were not victims of sexual assault. But they allegedly did face emotional and physical abuse which led to them leaving the program.
Mullen claims in her lawsuit that she and other parents would never have let their girls participate in the program had they known “a child sexual predator would coach their teenage daughters.”
The lawsuit contends that Butler used “his position of power to sexually abuse no fewer than six underage teenage girls, and likely more.” Mullen claims that several of the alleged victims were up for scholarships at elite collegiate programs, which gave him ammunition to use “abusive emotional, psychological and physical antics to shame girls and put them in vulnerable positions.”
Butler and his wife, Cheryl Butler, who is also listed as a defendant, are accused of threatening the girls to keep them from telling authorities about the alleged abuse.
Judge Kennelly granted Mullen’s request for the class action, but narrowed the scope to include just those who paid for volleyball instruction through the Sports Performance program that Butler supervised.
Source: Cook County Record