Police in Houston are currently on the hunt for Juan Jose Cruz, a sports coach who has been accused of sexually assaulting several young girls on his team. The alleged victims range from 9 to 11 and were all part of Cruz's sports team in north Houston, according to police.
Cruz has been accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child, continuous sexual assault of a child, indecency with a child and invasive visual recording.
Houston police describe Cruz as Hispanic, 51 years old, approximately 6 feet tall, and weighing 275 pounds. They believe that he may be in the Pasadena, Texas area and that he sometimes uses the alias John Cruz. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to Cruz's arrest.
Attorney contributor Marc Lenahan helps survivors of sexual violence and their families find justice through the civil court system. Here is his perspective on the legal options available to those who have been sexually abused by youth sports coaches:
Tragically, it's common for sexual predators to seek positions of trust where they can use this trust to abuse innocent victims. This has been seen in recent years with high-profile cases of child sexual abuse committed by coaches, doctors, and others involved in youth sports. When a coach or other trusted authority figure commits sexual abuse, we must make sure that the survivors get the support they need and that both the perpetrator and enabling third parties are held accountable for the suffering they've caused.
In some cases, youth sports organizations bear partial blame for sexual crimes because of negligence, such as failing to report complaints of abuse to law enforcement and allowing a coach accused of abuse to remain in his position. In cases involving negligence, the victim and their family may have grounds for a lawsuit. While the criminal justice system will handle prosecuting the perpetrator, lawsuits can help demand accountability from sports organizations and other third parties who played a role in enabling the abuse.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by someone in a youth sports organization, you can learn more about your legal options by speaking to one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors lawyers.