Tag: athlete sexual abuse

Jem Sirrine Horowitz Law

Southeastern University Athletic Trainer Jem Sirrine Surrenders License After Sexual Misconduct Complaint

Jem Sirrine, the former head athletic trainer at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, surrendered his license to work as an athletic trainer in the State of Florida on October 6, 2021 as part of a disciplinary proceeding before the Board of Athletic Training.  A Final Order of discipline was entered against Jem Sirrine following an allegation that Sirrine engaged in sexual misconduct when he was working with one of the female volleyball players at Southeastern University.

According to the Order, on November 9, 2020, a 23-year-old female sustained an injury to her left quad muscle while playing volleyball at the university. Jem Sirrine, athletic trainer at the time, took the student to the training room and placed heat on her injury. Sirrine then insisted that the injured student undergo Neuromuscular Electronic Stimulation (STIM) treatment for her leg. The student alleges that they entered the training room, and Sirrine instructed her to get on the bed with her feet facing the wall and her head facing the door. She claims that Sirrine stuck his hand inside her spandex and moved the spandex and her underwear to the side, exposing her vagina. Sirrine allegedly placed the STIM pad nowhere close to the injury site and then claimed the machine wasn’t working. Sirrine then removed the STIM pad and exposed the student’s vagina for the second time.  When the student attempted to exit the room, Sirrine was sitting in a “provocative” manner, possibly aroused. The injured student informed the coach of the volleyball team and a representative from Human Resources about the incident that had just occurred. After reporting the allegations to authorities, the student was informed that another similar incident  involving Sirrine and another female athlete had been previously reported. The student then immediately reported the incident to Lakeland Police Department for criminal investigation.

Pursuant to the disciplinary Order, Sirrine agreed to cease working as an athletic trainer immediately and not re-apply for an Athletic Trainer license in Florida. Jem Sirrine, age 45, had been a licensed athletic trainer in Florida since 2000. Sirrine recently re-located to Tennessee according to public records.

The disciplinary order continues a long and disturbing trend of sexual misconduct by athletic trainers and coaches at universities throughout the country. Under Florida law, athletic trainers occupy positions of trust, and all sexual activity between the trainer and client is strictly prohibited.   An athletic trainer may not use his relationship with a patient to induce or attempt to induce the patient to engage or to engage or attempt to engage tan athlete in sexual activity outside the scope of practice or the scope of generally accepted examination or treatment of the patient. 

Horowitz Law has handled numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of students and athletes.  If you have been a victim of sexual misconduct by Jem Sirrine or have any knowledge about such events at Southeastern University, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or e-mail sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz today.

athlete sexual abuse

Young Athletes Deserve Protection

Two of the saddest sentences we can imagine are in a recent article about child sex crimes at “arguably the world’s leading soccer finishing school, the launching pad for dozens of top professional players.”

Early in the article, we read “In almost every case, investigations later found, rumors and claims of misbehavior and abuse were well known but ignored.”

And the article ends with this line: “Eight years after seeing the (perpetrator’s) message on her son’s phone, the mom says she wishes she had just gone to the police.”

The crux of the story:

“David San José has never been the subject of an official complaint of sexual abuse or improper physical contact with a child.  But that he has been able to continue working with young athletes despite red flags has raised new questions about the inability, or unwillingness, of sports organizations to conduct meaningful investigations into the conduct of adults responsible for the care of children.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/sports/soccer/france-soccer-abuse.html?searchResultPosition=2

Those ‘red flags’ were many, including “dozens of disturbingly affectionate text messages to a 13-year-old boy, inviting the boy to lunch and weighing boys naked.”

Eventually, French soccer federation officials fired San Jose but kept quiet about why. And for the past eight years, it has allowed him to quietly move from job to job, always retaining a highly valued certificate issued by the federation that has eased his ability to continue working in the sport. His contact information remains available to potential employers on the federation’s website.

In other words, even as you read this, very little has been done to protect other young athletes from San Jose.

Two ‘take-aways’ leap out from this story, one for employers and one for all of us.

(1) Employers should assume that when a prospective hire seems too good to be true, she or he probably is.

“One of San Jose’s next stops was at Olympique de Valence, a team playing in the lower rungs of French soccer about an hour’s drive south of Lyon. The team’s sporting director recalled being surprised that someone as qualified as San José was available. Given San José’s tenure at Clairefontaine, the director considered it a coup to have hired someone of his pedigree to coach Valence’s under-15 team. Within months, though, Vivant began to have suspicions.”

If a professor at a prestigious university applies to work at a much less prestigious one, the hiring committee should be especially vigilant.

(2) All of us should take note of this all-too-frequently used excuse for “overstepping.”

The victim’s mom said St. Jose “disarmed her by telling her that in his culture — he has a Spanish background — it was routine to say things like ‘I love you’ even to people outside your own family.”

We should be very skeptical when an adult cites ‘cultural differences’ for crossing the line with a child. Yes, different nations, people, and cultures have slightly different expectations about boundaries and affection.

But it’s the job of adults to err on the side of caution and to learn what’s deemed appropriate in different settings. A well-intentioned man will tell parents “In my culture, it would be considered polite for me to kiss your daughter on the cheek at this point. But I want to see if that feels OK to all of you first?” A predator will just go ahead and do it and later profess ignorance and regret.

And when that happens, all of us – even by-standers – must step in and say “That may be permissible where you come from. But it’s not here. You shouldn’t have done that.”

A fleeting moment of personal discomfort or a fear of being considered culturally insensitive shouldn’t stop us from doing what’s right to protect the vulnerable.