Lawsuit Accuses USA Diving, RipFest of Failing to Report Sexual Abuse
A new lawsuit alleges that USA Diving received several reports of sexual abuse by coaches and failed to pass these reports along to law enforcement. The lawsuit claims that “coaches and officials who were the subject of these complaints are still coaching children in USA Diving.”
This is the second lawsuit filed against the organization in the past 3 months. In July, another lawsuit was filed by the same law firm.
Former U.S. Olympic coach John Winfield and his company, the Arcadia, Indiana-based RipFest, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. The suit claims that these parties failed to protect female athletes from sexual abuse by a coach named Johel Ramirez, who was convicted of battery last month. Ramirez was also named as a defendant.
Ramirez was convicted of battery in Hamilton County last month and sentenced to over a year and a half in jail after pleading guilty. Several other counts were dismissed, including 10 involving sexual abuse.
One of the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit alleges that Ramirez digitally penetrated her as she slept in a RipFest dorm in the fall of 2016.
Another plaintiff has accused Ramirez of touching her sexually on 12 separate occasions.
According to the lawsuit, “numerous” other athletes complained to Wingfield that Ramirez touched them inappropriately the same way that the woman who is named in the lawsuit claims.
Two other RipFest coaches are mentioned in the lawsuit based on allegations of inappropriate conduct, although neither is named as a defendant.
Class-Action Lawsuit Against USA Diving
In July of this year, a class action lawsuit was filed against USA Diving, alleging that the sport’s governing body failed to keep its athletes safe after a diving coach was accused of sexually abusing female athletes.
The lawsuit accuses William Bohonyi, a former diving coach, of abusing at least two female divers. Bohonyi, USA Diving, and the Ohio State University Diving Club are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court in Indianapolis.
According to the lawsuit, USA Diving “failed to report Bohonyi to law enforcement for being a serial rapist,” even though this is required by law. Additionally, the suit alleges that although Bohonyi was banned from membership in 2015, USA Diving did nothing to stop him from continuing to act as a diving coach to other female athletes through at least May of this year.
Legal Recourse For Survivors of Coach Sexual Abuse
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com represents victims of sexual violence, helping them speak out and get the financial support they deserve for the trauma they’ve suffered. We’ve asked him for some input into the legal options available to survivors of sexual abuse by coaches:
Youth sports leagues have numerous benefits. They help our kids learn the value of teamwork and working hard, along with helping forge new friendships and building leadership skills. However, these organizations occasionally attract sexual predators who seek to use their positions as trusted authority figures to sexually abuse young athletes.
When a child is sexually abused by a coach, it’s important to make sure the coach is prosecuted and never allowed to work with children again. Additionally, it’s important to determine if the organization itself is at fault for failing to prevent the abuse. For example, a youth sports organization could be considered negligent if they allowed a coach to continue working after reports of sexual misconduct or failed to report the misconduct to the authorities.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual abuse by a coach or anyone else, you can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking to an experienced sex abuse victims lawyer.
Local Coverage From the Indianapolis Star
Location of RipFest Diving Club