Youth Volleyball Coach Rick Butler Allegedly Raped 6 Teen Girls, Forced at Least One to Have Abortion

National   |   Indya Rennie   |   Mar 2, 2018   |   12:29PM   |   Washington, DC

Another sports sex scandal is afoot as parent Laura Mullen recently filed suit in the United States District Court of Chicago against her daughter’s former volleyball coach, Rick Butler.

Butler, one of the most well-known youth volleyball coaches in the country, is accused of raping at least six teenage girls hundreds of times in the 1980s while they were in his volleyball training program, according to the Huffington Post. In the 72-page lawsuit, Butler and his wife Cheryl are also accused of concealing his past incidences of sexual abuse, and intimidating victims to prevent exposure.

Mullen’s lawsuit is seeking more than $5 million in damages from the Butlers and their facility, the Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Aurora, Illinois. The lawsuit details the stories of the victims of Butler’s abuse.

One young lady, Sarah Powers-Barnhard, accused Butler of fondling her in public, forcing her to watch pornographic films, and raping her repeatedly beginning when she was 16 years old, the report stated.

Another of Butler’s former students, Christine Tuzi, also said Butler raped her when she was 16. Following several years of “hundreds of unprotected sexual encounters,” she said she became pregnant when she was 19.

Then, Butler allegedly forced her to abort her baby, telling her to “get rid of it” and even personally taking her to the abortion clinic.

The Chicago Sun Times reports Laura Mullen, who had not known of these abuses when she was connected to Butler’s program, discontinued her girls’ volleyball lessons for other reasons. She said Butler had pressured the girls to play abroad in China while their father was dying from prostrate cancer. While they were in China, the girls’ father died.

But the lawsuit says Mullen never would have enrolled her girls in the volleyball program had she known of Butler’s alleged sexual abuse history.

When these reported abuses first were exposed in 1995, USA Volleyball only temporarily enforced their “lifetime” ban against Butler, according to Huffington Post. He continued training; more than 20,000 girls knew him as their coach, and 100 of them won national championships. Four of them won Olympic medals, the report states.

Glitz and glamour regardless, Butler’s career may be over now. USA Volleyball’s overdue ban came during the months after the Sun-Times reported the allegations in November 2017. The Chicago Sun Times noted the Amateur Athletic Union and the Junior Volleyball Association followed suit soon after.

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The Huffington Post reports Butler has denied the allegations, saying that his sexual encounters were consensual and occurred after the young ladies were 18.

However, Mullen’s class-action attorney, Jay Edelson, pointed to the myriad calls and emails that came to his office from people willing to validate the lawsuit’s claims.

Butler’s alleged abuses were covered up through intimidation tactics, according to the lawsuit. But perhaps his alleged abuses could have been more easily exposed had abortion not been legal and easily accessible.