Attorneys Darrell Cochran and Andrew Ulmer reached a $1.5 million settlement for their client, Stephanie Cleaves, in a sexual abuse suit against Black Hills Football Club (BHFC). This is the third settlement in a series of lawsuits against BHFC related to sexual abuse by David Cross, a soccer coach at this club.
In one glaring instance of sexual abuse, Stephanie, who was 16 at the time, was inappropriately touched on her inner thigh by Mr. Cross while seated next to him on a flight to a soccer tournament. Stephanie stopped the coach’s advances, which led to Mr. Cross retaliating against her upon their return home. The harassment by Mr. Cross was so severe that Stephanie quit her team to attempt to play for another team. In an effort to exert control and perpetuate harassment, Mr. Cross filed a complaint with the Washington State Youth Soccer Association alleging that Stephanie was violating rules by attempting to play for another team without having been formally released from the BHFC team. As a result of the complaint, Stephanie was prohibited from playing for another team during her junior year of high school.
“Not only did the BHFC coach sexually abuse a 16-year-old girl, but then the club retaliated against her for courageously denying his advances,” Cochran said. “It just adds to the disturbing nature of an already disturbing case.”
Stephanie is unfortunately yet another victimized youth soccer player to speak out about the sexual abuse and sexual harassment she experienced while she was a member of BHFC, which consistently failed to prevent its coaches from sexually abusing minor youth athletes.
“Cross’s behavior is textbook grooming, a perpetrator with a position of power who secretly and systematically showers someone under his or her control with more and more attention,” Cochran said about the soccer coach in 2015 when the lawsuits against BHFC were originally filed.
The youth sports organizations that negligently allow sexual abuse to occur within their leagues must be held accountable. Learn more about what you can do if you know someone who may be a victim of sexual abuse perpetuated by youth sports coaches.