AAU: Uphold Your Zero Tolerance for Sex Abuse; Enforce the Ban Against Rick Butler
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Tell Roger Goudy, President of the AAU, Jamie Davis, CEO of USA Volleyball, and Shellie Pfohl, CEO of the U.S. Center for SafeSport: Enforce Rick Butler’s lifetime ban from coaching volleyball!
Help us send a message to sport leaders before the AAU Junior National Championships at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports; sexually abusing coaches must not be permitted to coach. When the AAU provides an abusive coach with a position of trust and leadership, they are putting hundreds of athletes at risk, including children.
Children like Sarah Powers-Barnhard, who was just 15 when she started playing club volleyball in the 1980s. Rick Butler was her first coach. He told her she had the potential to get a college scholarship… but only if she trained with him, trusted him, and did what he told her to do. Coach Rick Butler used that position of trust and power to sexually abuse Sarah hundreds of times between the ages of 16 to 18 years old. Rick Butler went on to abuse at least two more of his athletes; Julie Bremner Romias and Christine Brigman Tuzi.
In 1995, USA Volleyball and its Ethics Committee held a hearing to determine if Rick Butler violated the sport's ethics rules. All three victims testified at length. Rick Butler testified, and he presented character witnesses and fact witnesses. The Ethics Committee concluded that Rick Butler sexually abused all three girls, and that their only option was a life-time ban because of his "immorality, lack of judgment and unacceptable behavior.”
In addition, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) also found “credible evidence” that the abuse allegations against Butler were true.
Yet Rick Butler is now back and coaching girls. How? Five years after Rick Butler received the lifetime ban, the AAU and Volleyball saw dollar signs with his following in the sport of volleyball, and allowed him to reapply. Rick Butler was granted conditional membership to work as an administrator with boys’ teams. Over time, he started coaching girls again, despite the AAU’s “zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct” by its coaches.
Sarah Powers-Barnhard is now a Mid-Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame player and a successful volleyball coach. Not only does she want to protect other young athletes, (she is a mother of two and has coached hundreds of girls); it is unfair that she should have to coach in the same tournaments where her molester, Rick Butler, is on the court. She should not have to choose between her emotional safety or pursuing coaching professionally.
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