USA Gymnastics Scandal: Failure to Report Sex Abuse Allegations

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According to investigative reporting by the Indianapolis Star, USA Gymnastics failed to report allegations of sexual abuse by coaches to proper authorities.

USA Gymnastics trains the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Nationally, it includes more than 121,000 athletes and 3,000 gyms with its executive office in Indianapolis.  USA Gymnastics has had the practice of not notifying authorities of sexual abuse allegations unless the complaints were signed by a victim or a parent of the victim. Most third-party reports are considered hearsay. The state of Indiana requires everyone to report sexual abuse; however, USA Gymnastics has argued that organizations are not bound to that law.

Records show that the organization executives have compiled complaint dossiers on more than 50 coaches and filed them in a drawer in its executive office. They are not accessible to the public.  Despite sealed records of abuse allegations, the Indianapolis Star was able to discover and investigate multiple cases of sexual abuse that continued despite USA Gymnastics being alerted.

In 2011 USA Gymnastics received complaints about Marvin Sharp detailing incidents of inappropriate touching and warning that he should not be around children. Sharp was named 2010 national Women’s Coach of the Year. Four years after original complaints, USA Gymnastics finally reported Sharp for accusations that he touched a gymnast’s vagina, trimmed her pubic hair, and took sexually explicit pictures of her beginning when she was 12 years old. He was convicted last year and killed himself while in jail.

Coach Mark Schiefelbein was convicted in 2003 of molesting a Tennessee girl when she was 10 years old. USA Gymnastics had numerous complaints about him alleging sexual assault, but failed to notify the appropriate authorities. The girl’s family contacted the police in 2002. According to police records, Schiefelbein penetrated her vagina with his finger and videotaped her exposed vagina. He is currently serving a 36-year sentence in prison.

Coach James Bell was arrested in 2003 for molesting three young gymnasts in Rhode Island. USA Gymnastics allegedly has complaints about Bell dating five years prior to his arrest. Bell went on the run in 2004 and was rearrested in 2015. He is currently serving an 8-year sentence in prison for child molestation.

USA Gymnatics complaints about Coach William McGabe allegedly date back as a far as 1998. One complaint warned that McGabe “should be locked in a cage before someone is raped.” McGabe pleaded guilty in 2006 to charges including molesting gymnasts, videotaping girls changing clothes and posting their pictures on the internet. He is serving a 30-year sentence in prison.

It is despicable that an organization like USA gymnastics did not take available measures to protect the safety of children.  When a youth organization is entrusted with enriching the lives of children through athletics, they must also take on the responsibility of protecting children from harm.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits arising from sexual abuse in youth-serving organizations.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

After-school counselor takes plea bargain in child sex case–gets 20 years probation

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Broward County Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes sentenced Michael Nathan Jones to 20 years of probation and mandatory psycho-sexual evaluation after he pled no contest to charges of aggravated child abuse.

“Mr. Mike,” as the children referred to him, was employed as an after-care counselor at the school by After School Program, Inc. at Forest Hills Elementary School in Coral Springs. On June 28, 2016, three pre-teen girls testified in court that Jones touched them in a sexual manner between the legs in 2011. Sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed and settled a civil lawsuit on behalf of the first child to testify in court, who was 8 years old when she was allegedly molested (Broward County Circuit Court, Case No. 15-018809).  As reported in the Sun-Sentinel, the family received a  settlement of $450,000 in the civil lawsuit.

Jones was not found guilty of molestation charges in the first trial; however, pursuant to his plea deal in the second case, Jones will be on probation for 20 years and not be allowed to work or volunteer with children in the future.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits arising from sexual abuse in schools, day cares, and youth serving organizations.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse in a school, day care, after school program, or a youth-serving organization or any other location, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

 

Teenage Boy Allegedly Molests 3 Year-Old Girl at In-Home Daycare in Pasco County

Lucius-Gibson-300x300A 16 year-old boy from Pasco County, Florida is accused of molesting a 3 year-old girl at his mother’s daycare operated in their home. Lucius Isaiah Gibson, who goes by Isaiah, allegedly inserted his penis into the mouth of the child during nap time at his mother’s daycare, Thomas Gibson Family Day Care.

According to police, the incident took place during nap time, a time when the children were unsupervised. The 3 year-old victim told her parents about what happened.  Investigators believe that four other children, both boys and girls, may have been molested by Gibson. In addition to charging Gibson sexual battery, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is considering filing child neglect charges against Gibson’s mother and her employees.

In 2013, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office investigated similar allegations of “inappropriate touching” of a young child by Gibson.  Detectives at the time did not feel they had enough evidence to arrest Gibson, nor did the parents of the child decide to press charges.

According to police, Gibson admitted unintentionally exposing himself in front of the children but denied all other allegations.  The daycare’s operation have been suspended for 90 days pending further investigation.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits arising from sexual abuse in schools, daycares, and other youth serving organizations. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse in a school, day care, after school program, or a youth-serving organization or any other location, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

 

State of Florida Orders Assisted Living Facility Closed Following Reports of Sex Assault In Facility

GraceManorPortOrangeGraceManorPortOrange43392Operators of an assisted living facility in Volusia County, Florida are being accused of failing to protect residents from ongoing incidents of sexual assault. Health care regulators in Florida issued an emergency suspension Order mandating that Grace Manor Assisted Living and Memory Care close its doors by July 26 at 5pm for failure to properly report and document incidents of sexual assault.

In May or June 2016 a male patient with dementia, who has also been diagnosed with a sex addiction according to the State Agency for Health Care Administration, allegedly sexually assaulted a female patient. The same male patient was reported to have sexually assaulted two other female patients at the facility. On June 20, 2016, the man was removed from the facility, but returned about a week later. According to the state regulators’ report, the facility staff responded by telling residents to lock their doors, which could pose other risks in the case of an emergency.

State regulators said that the facility staff “did nothing to address an ongoing and known threat” and “turned a blind eye to the health and well-being of those residents known to have been victimized.” Grace Manor has 30 days to appeal the order.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual assault.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual assault, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Nationwide Investigation Reveals Injustice When Sexual Misconduct is Committed by Doctors

Stethoscope on a printed sheet of paperMuch like sexual misconduct in trusted institutions like the Catholic Church, sexual misconduct by doctors occurs more frequently than many would imagine. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and some of her sister publications recently ran exposés of doctors accused of sexual misconduct.  The investigative reporters obtained and analyzed more than 100,000 disciplinary documents and other records from across the country to find cases that may have involved sexual misconduct. Then reporters identified more than 3,100 doctors who were publicly disciplined since Jan. 1, 1999 after being accused of sexual infractions. More than 2,400 were sanctioned for violations that clearly involved patients. The rest were disciplined for sexual harassment of employees or for crimes such as child pornography, public indecency or sexual assault.  Yet many, if not most, cases of physician sexual misconduct remain hidden. The AJC investigation discovered that state boards and hospitals handle some cases secretly. In other cases, medical boards remove once-public orders from their websites or issue documents that cloak sexual misconduct in vague language.

The investigation reached some other startling conclusions.  Most notably, the investigation found a broken system which forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state.   The nation’s largest medical society — the American Medical Association (AMA) — purports to have zero tolerance for doctors who sexually abuse patients. But in practice the AMA’s policy is not always followed.  For instance, the AMA is not in favor of the automatic revocation of the medical license of every doctor who commits sexual abuse of a patient. It also does not expel every offender from its membership rolls. Indeed, the AMA has fought to keep confidential a national database of physicians disciplined for sexual misconduct and other transgressions.  Doctors clearly possess political power, professional confidence and a deep aversion to outside scrutiny. Self-regulation is a core principle.

The question is often asked how do doctors “get away” with sexual misconduct?  According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s extensive research, the reasons include the following:

  1. Some victims say nothing. Intimidated, confused or embarrassed, they fear that no one will take their word over a doctor’s word. Colleagues and nurses stay silent.
  2. Hospitals and health care organizations brush off accusations or quietly push doctors out, the investigation found, without reporting them to police or licensing agencies.
  3. Physician-dominated medical boards gave offenders second chances.
  4. Prosecutors dismissed or reduced charges, so doctors could keep practicing and stay off sex offender registries.
  5. Communities rallied around the physicians.
  6.  The medical profession itself has never taken on sexual misconduct as a significant priority. And layer upon layer of secrecy makes it nearly impossible for the public, or even the medical community itself, to know the extent of physician sexual abuse.

The types of sexual misconduct discovered in the Atlanta Journal Constitution investigation included lewd comments, molestation, masturbation by doctors in front of patients, trading drugs for sex, and rape. Many victims hesitate coming forward for the shame that sexual abuse would bring on them and their families. Some fear law enforcement and deportation; some women fear how their husbands will react. Furthermore, consent is often unclear in these cases.  According to the medical profession, however, consent is never a defense in the case of sexual misconduct because of the imbalance of power between doctors and patients.

In many of these cases, the struggle to balance trust, accountability, and necessity of medical care come to the forefront. Doctors are a necessity in communities, especially those with already limited access to vital resources such as healthy food, education, and economic opportunities. Doctors have a special relationship with their patients who are encouraged to be honest and open with them about their health and lifestyle choices. It is for this reason that sexual misconduct by doctors is so devastating. It is an abuse of trust that can alienate people from the resources they need to thrive.

This is indeed a problem which the medical profession needs to address.  In the meantime, we commend all victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers who come forward to reports incidents of sexual misconduct by physicians and other health care personnel.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual assault, including numerous cases related to sexual misconduct by physicians and other health care personnel. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse, please e-mail attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

 

Youth Pastor Arrested for Allegedly Impregnating 10 year-old Girl

070116+raymond+vincentFort Lauderdale youth pastor Raymond Vincent, age 46, was arrested after he allegedly impregnated a 10 year-old girl and fled to Haiti.  Vincent has a history of sex-related charges as he was accused of molesting another child in 2011.

Doctors discovered that the young girl was pregnant after she went to the hospital complaining of stomach pain. Police believe that Vincent may have lured the young girl into his home with food. According to local news reports, the girl told the police that while she was sleeping on a couch she awakened to a hand down her pants.  She saw Vincent, who quickly removed his hand from under the blanket, over her. Vincent then pretended to check on another sleeping child to disguise his actions. The young girl then locked herself in the bathroom and alerted her mother. It is not clear whether Vincent allegedly raped the girl before or after the couch incident.

In 2012, Vincent was acquitted of four counts of child molestation while a youth pastor at a Pompano Beach church. He was alleged to have molested a young girl after luring her into his home with food in 2011.

Vincent is being held in Broward County jail without bond facing charges of sex battery and lewd and lascivious conduct.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual abuse, including cases related to clergy sexual abuse and other and youth serving organizations. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

87 year-old Florida Man Charged with Sex Battery in Nursing Home

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An 87-year-old Lantana, Florida man with a reputation of fondling nursing home staff is facing sexual battery charges for performing oral sex on a 94-year-old man debilitated by Parkinson’s disease.

Louis Lawson appeared in court on Thursday, June 30, 2016, charged with sex battery.  On November 11, 2015, a member of the Village on High Ridge nursing home staff was called to the alleged victim’s room to find Lawson performing oral sex.  Lawson had previously been found by nursing staff touching himself and has a reputation for grabbing and fondling staff members.  On November 13, 2015, Lantana Police were called and notified about Lawson’s behavior. According to local news reports, Lawson told the staff that he was “horsing around” and that the victim wanted it.  Police reported that Lawson did not consider the incident rape because the victim did not push him away. According to nursing home staff, the victim is physically disabled, but aware of his surroundings.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual battery. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual battery, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Child Testifies in Criminal Trial of After School Counselor Accused of Molestation

Michael Jones After School Program sexual abuseMichael Nathan Jones, now 25 years old, is facing criminal charges that he molested an 8-year old girl in 2011 at Forest Hills Elementary school in Coral Springs.  At the time of the incident, Jones was employed as an after-care counselor at the school by After School Program, Inc.

On June 28, 2016, the alleged victim testified in the criminal trial that Jones (whom the students referred to as “Mr. Mike”) touched the girl inappropriately when she was 8 years old while other children were watching a movie.  According to the girl, he reached under her skirt and asked her, “Does that tickle?” He also allegedly put his head under her skirt and asked her again, “Does that tickle?” Each time she replied no. Jones faces one count of sexual battery on a minor and two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.   Two other girls, ages 11 and 12, also testified in court that Jones touched them in a sexual manner between the legs in 2011.

Sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed and settled a civil lawsuit on behalf of the first child to testify in court yesterday, who was 8 years old when she was allegedly molested (Broward County Circuit Court, Case No. 15-018809).  It was disclosed in the criminal trial that the family received a  settlement of $450,000 in the civil lawsuit.

Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits arising from sexual abuse in schools, day cares, and youth serving organizations.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse in a school, day care, after school program, or a youth-serving organization or any other location, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100. 

North Miami teacher Mwon Taylor arrested for molestation and sexual battery of a minor

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Mwon Taylor, a 39-year old teacher at  Miami Union Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school in North Miami, has been arrested on charges that he sexually molested a minor. On June 22, 2016, Taylor was charged with sexual battery on a minor over 12 years old and lewd and lascivious molestation on a minor less than 16 years old.  Prior to his arrest , Taylor taught at Miami Union Academy, at 12600 NW 4th Avenue in North Miami.  Miami Union Academy is a private school for students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

According to North Miami police records, there were approximately 20 inappropriate incidents that took place between August 1, 2011, and June 1, 2012, including Taylor taking pictures of the victim’s feet, and about five incidents of sexual contact.  These incidents included Taylor grabbing the victim and rubbing his hands on her groin and buttocks. According to detectives, the victim also performed oral sex on Taylor multiple times.  At the time of these incidents, the child was fourteen years old and in the eighth grade at Miami Union Academy.Taylor taught religion and social studies at Miami Union Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist affiliated Pre K-12 school; however, he is currently not listed in their online list of faculty. On June 23, 2016, he was being held without bond. He was scheduled to appear in court today, June 24th.

This is every parent’s worst nightmare. Schools should always be a place where parents can trust that their children will be cared for and protected from harm.

Attorney Adam Horowitz has substantial experience representing victims of sexual abuse in private schools.  Among several other cases, Horowitz is presently representing a male student – and the student’s mother – in a lawsuit against the private Tampa Day School and former principal James Larkin, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for two counts of felony sexual battery of a minor. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Wilton Manors Massage Therapist Mark Good Arrested on Felony Sex Battery Charge

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On June 13, 2016, Mark Good, a massage therapist at Chi Spa in Wilton Manors, Florida, was charged with felony sexual battery upon a female spa client.  The alleged victim reported that Mark Good touched her vagina and breasts with his fingers and touched her vagina with his tongue, without her consent during a massage appointment at Chi Spa.  According to the Wilton Manors police records, two additional women have reported that Mark Good initiated unwanted sexual contact during their massages at Chi Spa located at 2415 North Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors, Florida.  According to the Florida Department of Health, Mark Good has been licensed as a massage therapist since 2010.

On February 11, 2016, 35-40 minutes into a Swedish massage, Good allegedly began to touch his client inappropriately. He reportedly massaged her vaginal area multiple times, digitally penetrated her vagina, made oral contact with her vagina and breasts, and wiped her body down with wet towels. The victim called the police immediately after leaving the spa to report the incident.

On February 23, 2016, the spa owner was informed about the allegations against Good. The same day another female client reported an incident of sexual misconduct by Good. The second alleged victim told a Chi Spa employee that Good was “touching her” and that she wanted her money back.

On March 8, 2016, a third female client reported an incident of sexual misconduct by Good. The victim sent a text message to the spa owner that Good touched her genital area.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is representing the alleged victim in the felony sexual battery charge.

He is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sex assault by massage therapists. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual battery at any spa or massage therapy establishment, please e-mail attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.