A new class-action lawsuit has accused a renowned youth volleyball coach of using his position to rape at least six teen girls “hundreds” of times over a 30-year span.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a 72-page complaint stated that Rick Butler, who had “the ability to place the teenage girls he coaches at top college volleyball programs,” impregnated one of his victims. His wife, Cheryl Butler, is also being sued for allegedly concealing her husband’s repeated abuse by threatening the victims.
The lawsuit was filed by Laura Mullen, whose daughter was taught by Rick for years. Mullen’s claimed she initially wasn’t aware of the numerous allegations against the coach. Her daughter wasn’t specified as a victim, but Mullen is seeking monetary compensation, injunctive relief, and attorneys fees.
(The lawsuit can be read in full below.)
Butler’s was considered one of the most powerful coaches in youth volleyball, training many college-level players at his Chicago-based “Sports Performance Volleyball” program.
“The victims were each at the top of their game; rising stars in need of a coach to propel them to the next level and help get them a scholarship to an elite college,” the lawsuit stated.
The allegations of Sarah Powers-Barnhard, Julie Romias, Christine Tuzi and Beth Rose were levied in a Sun-Times exposé published in November. However, none of these women were listed in the recent lawsuit.
Powers-Barnhard told the newspaper that she was 16 when Rick touched her on a team trip to New York. During the same trip, he allegedly kissed and fondled her. She alleged that Rick raped her for the first time a few days later.
ESPN reported that USA Volleyball banned Rick from teaching teen girls in 1995 after an ethics panel ruled that he had sexual relationships with three minor girls. Though the ban was lifted in 2000, the organization reinstated the ban in January in light of the Sun-Times report.
Earlier this month, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) also “permanently disqualified” Butler and voided his membership; USA Volleyball permanently banned him in January while Junior Volleyball Association handed down an indefinite ban in February, ESPN reported.
Great Lakes Volleyball, Sports Performance Volleyball Club, and Great Lakes Center are also listed in the lawsuit. High-profile tech attorney Jay Edelson told the Chicago Tribune that any money his firm receives from the lawsuit will be given to charity.
“The real goal here is, our view is if we are able to prove our allegations, we think that Rick and Cheryl shouldn’t be coaching minors anymore,” Edelson said.
[Featured Image: Rick Butler/WTLV video screenshot]