Sauder Schelkopf is investigating allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct within women’s professional soccer in the United States. An independent investigation was based on more than 200 interviews and reveals the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) under the US Soccer Federation (USSF) failed to provide a safe environment for players.
Oct. 3, 2022, independent investigation stated in part:
Our investigation has revealed a league in which abuse and misconduct—verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct—had become systemic, spanning multiple teams, coaches, and victims. Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper culture in women’s soccer, beginning in youth leagues, that normalizes verbally abusive coaching and blurs boundaries between coaches and players. The verbal and emotional abuse players describe in the NWSL is not merely “tough” coaching. And the players affected are not shrinking violets. They are among the best athletes in the world. They include members of the U.S. Women’s National Team (“National Team”), veterans of multiple World Cup and Olympic tournaments, and graduates of legendary NCAA Division I soccer programs. In well over 200 interviews, we heard report after report of relentless, degrading tirades; manipulation that was about power, not improving performance; and retaliation against those who attempted to come forward. Even more disturbing were the stories of sexual misconduct. Players described a pattern of sexually charged comments, unwanted sexual advances and sexual touching, and coercive sexual intercourse.
In a statement, USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone said: “This investigation’s findings are heartbreaking and deeply troubling. The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playing field, in any training facility or workplace. As the national governing body for our sport, U.S. Soccer is fully committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that all players — at all levels — have a safe and respectful place to learn, grow and compete. We are taking the immediate action that we can today, and will convene leaders in soccer at all levels across the country to collaborate on the recommendations so we can create meaningful, long-lasting change throughout the soccer ecosystem.”
Sauder Schelkopf has a nationally recognized sexual misconduct practice. The firm’s attorneys have represented survivors of clergy sexual abuse in dioceses throughout the country. Our firm currently serves as court-appointed lead counsel in courts across the country. The attorneys at Sauder Schelkopf have recovered over $500 million on behalf of their clients and class members. Our attorneys have been recognized by LawDragon in its list of the “500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers” for 2022. This list notes: “From the opioid epidemic to toxic substances and defective products, truck accidents to wildfires and sexual abuse, these are the lawyers who stand on the front line in individual lawsuits and class actions seeking justice.” Mr. Schelkopf was named to Pennsylvania’s Best Lawyers® 2022 for Class Actions/Mass Tort Litigation. The American Lawyer named Mr. Sauder to its 2021 Northeast Trailblazers. The honor recognizes 60 lawyers who are “truly agents of change.” It “recognizes professionals in the Northeast who have moved the needle in the legal industry.” The Legal Intelligencer named Mr. Sauder and Mr. Schelkopf in its 2020 Pennsylvania Trailblazers list recognizing 31 lawyers who “have taken extra measures to contribute to positive outcomes . . . and who are truly agents of change.” The Legal highlighted Mr. Sauder’s innovative work on advocacy as class counsel in large institutional sex abuse cover-ups, women’s, and children’s rights. Our attorneys have also consistently been recognized by our peers being named to Pennsylvania SuperLawyer, a distinction held by the top 5% of attorneys in Pennsylvania. Our attorneys have also been selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Pennsylvania
- Sauder Schelkopf, and co-counsel, recently reached a $215 million settlement on behalf of female patients of Dr. George Tyndall, a gynecologist at the University of Southern California accused of sexual misconduct since the 1990s.
- We have represented survivors of clergy sexual abuse in dioceses throughout the country.
- We have a lawsuit pending on behalf of males who were victims of sexual misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss, the Ohio State team doctor, while they were students and student-athletes at Ohio State University.
- We recently announced a landmark class action settlement in which the University of Michigan agreed to “major institutional reforms.” It was alleged that UofM’s longtime employment of a predatory former sports doctor evidenced a toxic environment where students face an increased risk of sexual violence in violation of Title IX. The settlement comes after widespread allegations by over 1000 survivors of sexual misconduct by Dr. Robert E. Anderson, former director of University Health Service, and a former athletic team physician, who worked at the University of Michigan from 1968 until his retirement in 2003.
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If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, you can confidentially contact the lawyers at Sauder Schelkopf by filling out the form on this page or calling 888.711.9975