A $7.5 million settlement has been reached in a sexual abuse case involving the Blackhills Football Club and a former player.
The lawsuit is one of several against the club, in which women claim they were sexually abused by their coaches.
Courtney Butler said she was raped in 2005 by her soccer coach while at a tournament in Medford, Oregon.
Butler said she was called to her coach’s hotel room and after being raped, she remained silent about it for years.
“I wish when I was younger I would’ve done something about it, but I didn’t believe in myself. I believed my perpetrator. And what I really want people to know, girls to know and guys too, I just want them to understand that there is no shame in this,” Butler said.
“This coach was so brazen in this rape that he basically dared her to say anything. When her mom sensed something had gone wrong and confronted the coach, he screamed at the mother and daughter and then vanished. And not a soul from the club asked why he left or what had happened,” said Darrell Cochran, attorney for Butler. “Courtney and her mom are heroes for having the courage to step forward and take on this establishment.”
The settlement is the fourth against the Olympia soccer club, which all total $12.75 million.
In 2018, KIRO 7 talked with Brittany Wentz who alleged she had been sexually abused by a coach with Blackhills Football Club. She was 13 years old when she said her coach, David Cross, tried to “groom” her.
“We all respected Dave and loved being around each other,” Wentz said. “I thought I was getting close to one of my idols at the time.”
By the time she was 17, the relationship became sexual even though Cross was still coaching, according to Wentz.
“In my mind, it was an affair and if I told anybody, I would get in trouble and I’d go to jail,” she said.
A settlement of $1.5 million was reached in that case.
Although no one has been criminally charged in the cases, Butler hopes this could be a push for change.
“Whether or not they actually make the actions into a policy that can protect their players, I don’t, I mean they’ve had the opportunity to do that for years now and they never did before, so hopefully now they will,” said Butler.
“What has happened within the Blackhills Football Club from 1999 through 2019 has really defied belief: Multiple founding members of this organization sexually abused players over years, leaving a long list of victims who, to this very day, silently suffer the abuse, the shame, the guilt of it all, hoping the effects will just go away,” added Cochran. “Instead of standing by these sexually abused players, the Blackhills Football Club turned on them, denying that anything had happened to these children, and destroying documents to hide the evidence that would help prove what had happened.”
Blackhills Football Club acknowledged the settlement in a prepared statement shared with KIRO 7: “The Blackhills Football Club recently settled a lawsuit involving allegations of sex abuse by a former Blackhills coach over 15 years ago. The Blackhills Football Club is a not-for-profit entity that is led by an all-volunteer Board, consisting of parents of current and former players. The settlement resolves a legacy claim against the Club. The Club takes the safety of the children who play for the Club very seriously and has robust policies in place aimed at preventing sexual abuse. The Club hopes the settlement will allow it to move forward and focus on providing a safe and supportive environment for youth soccer.”
The club declined to comment further.
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