A Seattle soccer team owner has been sued for sexual harassment and members of the team have questioned whether he was properly screened and background checked. Twenty-two players quit the Seattle Impact FC team after only one season game. Players stood alongside the dance team known as “Ladies with Impact,” who also resigned to protest the assault of two dancers. According to reports, the coach, also a former college soccer player, had a history of sexual assault and misconduct in his two-decade career as a high-school coach. In addition to lawsuits filed against the coach, questions remain if other entities are liable for failure to background check the owner.
According to the Seattle Times, the coach had fired his staff and other office workers who were embittered by his management style. He accused the women who filed the lawsuit of being ‘dirt poor’ and trying to extort money through litigation. A 22-year-old dancer filed the lawsuit after the coach allegedly asked her to come over to his home. She accuses him of an assault that occurred during this encounter. The dancer was not only concerned about the professional complications of the assault, but has also been forced into counseling and takes medication to manage the stress associated with the event.
The coach has not been criminally charged for the offense, but the local law enforcement authorities are investigating. Members of the team, the association, and local fans have continued to protest his ongoing presence as the owner and coach of the team. The case has also raised questions about whether the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) went through a proper screening process to vet the coach. The newly formed professional circuit has boasted top indoor talent, but has had other legal problems related to sexual harassment. Reports indicate that another coach of a team in Texas was sued in 2010 by a female intern at his New York consulting firm. According to the complaint, the coach sent inappropriate emails, texts and notes. The case was settled out of court for $50,000.
An organization or business that fails to hold supervisors accountable for harassment or discrimination can be held liable. The league may have failed in its duties to properly background check the coach. According to reports, he lost a previous coaching job after a 17-year-old cheerleader reported that he had asked her out on a date. Another five women have obtained protection orders against him. Another woman accused him of stalking and breaking into her home while she and her children slept. Even worse, he was investigated for suspicion of rape. He has a long history of harassment and abuse that should have been warning signs to the league.
Even after the long criminal record and recent civil lawsuit, the coach defends his character saying that the allegations are an attempt to destroy the team. Players, dancers, and other employees are protesting the coaches continued association with the team. The lawsuit was filed by two dancers, a squad director and three employees. The lawsuit names the coach, as well as the MASL and commissioner as defendants, claiming that the organization and commissioner enabled the coach to attract young women as prey.
In the event of harassment, organizations and businesses can be held liable for failing to protect individuals against illegal activities. If you have suffered from harassment, our Orange County sexual harassment attorneys can successfully protect your rights. We will investigate your case and provide you with aggressive advocacy to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 949.375.4734.
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