Sports-Related Sexual Abuse

Sports-Related Sexual Abuse

In the United States, sexual abuse and assault are widespread problems. Though women are commonly thought of as the typical victims, anyone can suffer abuse—including males, females, or non-binary individuals. Abuse can happen to all ages and ethnicities. Statistics show that:

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 14 men have experienced rape or attempted rape
  • 43.6% of women and 24.8% of men are victims of some type of sexual violence
  • New sexual assaults occur approximately every 68 seconds
  • 39% of sexually violent acts are committed by an acquaintance of the victim
  • The greatest risk of sexual violence is for those younger than 35
  • Approximately 7% of athletes are victims of sexual assault

There are many cases of sports-related sexual abuse by coaches and other individuals who have regular contact with athletes. 

One of the most notorious cases involved highly prominent gymnastics physician, Larry Nassar, which resulted in the sexual abuse of more than 350 girls. In the wake of his arrest, he was found to have over 37,000 videos and images of child pornography, and he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Multiple investigations revealed that many institutions, such as MSU, USAG and USOPC, failed to act. As a result of their inaction, Larry Nassar was never stopped and the abuse persisted for decades.

It is very important to realize when sexual assault occurs and to report it so that victims can get their lives back on track. Contact Melissa Hague, an experienced sexual assault lawyer, for a free, confidential consultation if you have suffered sexual abuse.

Understanding Sexual Abuse

The term ‘sexual abuse’ refers to any type of sexual conduct that is unwanted and against the consent of the recipient. There can be physical contact involved, as well as non-physical behaviors that are sexual in nature. Common examples of sexual abuse or assault include:

  • Coercing someone into having sex
  • Insulting someone in sexual ways or calling them sexual names
  • Cyberstalking or online harrassment of a sexual nature
  • Exposing someone to unwanted, sexually explicit images
  • Groping or touching inappropriately 

Any unwanted sexual behavior can be considered abuse. 

Common Effects of Sexual Abuse

The effects of sexual abuse can be devastating for the victim. A person who has been raped or attempted to be raped can suffer severe mental and physical injuries, especially if they have been affected by forceful or violent penetrative sexual abuse. Additionally, the victim might be exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or an unwanted pregnancy.

If you have been abused sexually, you should go to a hospital to have a sexual assault nurse exam (SANE) performed, along with a rape kit. Following a SANE, a medical nurse may recommend certain medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The medications may occasionally cause side effects requiring additional medical attention.

When a person is sexually assaulted, emotional trauma is often the most severe injury. In the absence of treatment or resolution, the victim may suffer serious lifelong effects. Emotional effects of abuse can include:


Trauma survivors often develop depression. Depressive episodes interrupt a person’s regular thought patterns and cause long periods of sadness and hopelessness. 

A person suffering from depression may not have the motivation to perform regular daily activities, such as spending time with friends and family or taking care of chores.


A flashback to a past trauma can feel as if it is happening right now. Flashbacks are common in survivors of sexual violence, which can interrupt a person’s daily routine. Therapy may reduce the frequency of flashbacks.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A person who has survived a sexual assault can develop an anxiety disorder called PTSD. PTSD sufferers may feel on edge or have trouble sleeping. Additionally, they may intentionally avoid scenarios associated with the traumatic event.

Eating Disorders

It is not uncommon for people who have been sexually abused to be unusually concerned about their bodies. This may manifest itself in overeating, undereating, or excessive exercise. It is possible for victims to develop full-blown cases of anorexia, binge-eating disorder, or bulimia.

How Can a Sexual Assault Lawyer Help Me?

Those who have been sexually assaulted have been through a highly traumatic event. A compassionate, competent, and skilled sexual assault attorney can help them make sense of what has happened and determine their next steps. 

Personal injury lawyers may assist in the formation of cases related to sexual abuse, but sexual assault attorneys are trained to stand up for victims and to gather all the necessary evidence. In addition, they can provide the victim with supportive resources for overcoming any emotional trauma or physical effects caused by the assault. 

An individual who has experienced sexual assault may decide to pursue their case in a criminal or civil context. 

Criminal sexual assault cases carry a high burden of proof and are prosecuted by the local district attorney’s office. It is the district attorney’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the perpetrator committed the alleged crime. If the district attorney succeeds, the perpetrator is then sentenced to serve time in prison. 

A sexual assault lawyer may also pursue sexual assault cases in civil court. Victims who file a civil claim can obtain compensation for damages, including:

  • Assault-related medical treatment
  • Psychological trauma
  • Loss of employment or income
  • Psychological counseling
  • Additional damages resulting from the abuse

Victims of sports-related sexual abuse may be able to sue a third party with the help of an attorney who specializes in sexual assault. 

For instance, if a high school or college school sports coach sexually abused a student, the victim may be able to sue the institution where the coach works. Similarly, if a physician commits abuse, the victim may sue the medical practice if they were partly responsible or enabled the abuse. 

How Long Do I Have To Pursue a Sexual Assault Case?

It’s always best to report sexual assaults immediately. However, victims hesitate for many reasons. 

Some may dismiss it as something that will never happen again while others fear reprisals from their attackers. But you risk forgetting details by waiting to report the incident. Also, the longer you wait, the fewer legal options you might have.  

Every state has a statute of limitations. You will be left with limited options for recovering incurred expenses if you do not pursue your case within the prescribed period of time. 

An assault survivor cannot place a value on what they have lost. However, the civil justice system can assist victims in recovering some financial costs and compensation for their emotional suffering.  

Tell Us Your Story

The healing journey of a person who has been victimized by sexual assault begins with them reclaiming their voice. This can be accomplished by pursuing your claim in a court of law. Taking these steps will allow you to recover financial damages and get compensated for the emotional suffering you endured.  

You are in good hands with Melissa Hague, an experienced sexual assault attorney. Through the legal process, she will listen to your story and support your healing. Contact Melissa today to schedule a private and confidential consultation.


    Contact an experienced Injury Claims Lawyer at The Joel Bieber Firm today for your free initial consultation.