LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sports organizations governing youth activities from soccer to swimming to gymnastics to baseball have a duty to protect athletes from sexual and other abuse, the California Supreme Court ruled last week.
In a case involving girls aspiring to be Olympians who were molested by their martial arts coach for years, the court held that USA Taekwondo could be held liable. But the court cleared the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee from liability because it did not have a close enough relationship with the coach or athletes.
The decision clarifies legal standards for California courts after numerous sex abuse scandals have rocked the highest levels of amateur sport since the doctor for the U.S. gymnastics team was accused — and later convicted — of molesting scores of girls.
Attorney Stephen Estey, who represents the former taekwondo competitors, said the ruling would better protect young athletes from sexual abuse — from youth sports to college and the 61 national governing bodies for aspiring Olympians — by holding organizations responsible.
“The thing that’s been frustrating over the years is that these entities make money off the backs of all these athletes,” Estey said. “They make millions of dollars on these athletes, but they do nothing to protect them. They want all the benefit and none of the burden.”
Estey said he was disappointed the Olympic committee would not face liability and said the ruling could insulate other large…