US Tennis Association Fails to Protect Minors from Sexual Abuse

A blockbuster report by David Chen in the New York Times  revealed the US Tennis Association failed to report or remove a coach who had been twice  arrested and accused of  sexually abusing students at a high school where he coached. That coach, Normandie Burgos, was arrested for in 2010 and tried for molesting students and was arrested a second time in 2014 on charges of molesting one of his teenage players. Burgos went  on to coach for three more years, until 2017, when yet another abused player, working with the police, secretly recorded him admitting to having sex with a minor. Burgos was Convicted last May of 60 counts of child molestation and  is now serving a 255-year prison sentence.

The Times reported that Burgos targeted children of immigrant and working class families for abuse  and groomed  his victims by giving them  free tennis lessons, clothes and lessons .He also promised to help them get College scholarships and took them to USTA events.

Months  after Burgos’2014 arrest, Gordon Smith, USTA’s  executive director and chief operating officer at the time, opposed including the USTA in the US Olympic Committee’s Safesport Program. He objected to a “single mandatory national entity” overseeing abuse cases across federations and, over the objections of representatives for gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling, he said that a sport should be able to “opt out of the centralized structure” if it could police itself.

According to the Times story There is no public record of the U.S.T.A. having taken any action against Burgos. Despite being a convicted sex offender, he is not listed in the database of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent body created to track abusive coaches, trainers and others with access to athletes.

Manly, Stewart & Finaldi has represented hundreds of child sexual abuse victims of teachers and coaches in California schools. We are also the lead attorneys representing Olympic athletes and victims of former US Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team Doctor Larry Nassar and secured a $500 million settlement for our clients.   In each of these cases we have helped victims and families get justice by conducting a thorough investigation of the organization and the school . In many cases we have discovered that administrators and executives  know that the perpetrator was a danger to children and either did nothing or actively covered up the crimes.