The United States Tennis Association is the subject of a new lawsuit, with a former player alleging the U.S.T.A. failed to stop a coach arrested for sexually abusing him and other minors.
The New York Times reports that the coach, Normandie Burgos, ran a much-touted tennis program at a Bay Area high school, and was accused of and arrested for allegedly groping and abusing minors multiple times over the course of several decades. Per the Times:
According to transcripts from the trial in 2010, one student testified that Burgos had put a sleeping mask over his head and eyes, supposedly to help him relax, before massaging him and touching his penis.
Yet jurors could not reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared. And Burgos, a gay man who had accused his critics of homophobia, became emboldened, prosecutors now say, doubling down on his efforts to become one of the region’s leading figures in youth tennis.
In 2019, he was sentenced to 255 years in prison for 60 counts of child molestation, after a former student and victim, Stevie Gould, secretly recorded him admitting to sexually abusing a minor. But Gould says the U.S.T.A. should have taken action against Burgos, particularly since he was accused so many times before his sentencing. As the Times reports:
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…
…Alex Rodriguez, the mother of a player Burgos had coached who was not abused, contended that the U.S.T.A. “dropped the ball, because they made it appear like this was a safe place for the kids to go. Shouldn’t there have been more oversight from the U.S.T.A. about him interacting with children?”
Burgos was fired by one school in 2006 and accused of abuse again in 2020, but the U.S.T.A. reportedly continued to give him travel grants, and did not speak out against him. Victims say they even reported him to the U.S.T.A., but nothing was done.
The U.S.T.A. did not provide comment to the Times. But based on the lawsuit, the situation seems eerily similar to what happened with USA Gymnastics, which faces multiple lawsuits after reportedly failing to stop former national team doctor Larry Nassar from sexually abusing a long list of young gymnasts over the course of his career.