On April 1, 2021, the California Supreme Court entered an opinion in Brown v. USA Taekwondo, which involves sexual abuse-related claims against USA Taekwondo (“USAT”) and the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”).
Lowers Courts’ Decisions
From 2007 to 2013, then-minors Yazmin Brown, Kendra Gatt and Brianna Bordon (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) were sexually abused by their coach, Marc Gitelman, a certified USAT coach. The abuse was alleged to have occurred at USAT- and USOC-sponsored events. In 2015, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Gitelman, USAT and USOC in California state court. Plaintiffs alleged that they were sexually abused by Gitelman and that USOC and USAT were negligent in failing to protect them from Gitelman’s abuse. It was alleged that the sexual abuse of young athletes by their coaches has been an ongoing problem dating back to the 1980’s. Although USOC mandated that national governing bodies adopt a Safe Sport Program to protect athletes from such abuse, Plaintiffs alleged that USAT failed to implement the Safe Sport Program in a timely fashion. As a result, USAT was placed on probation by USOC. Plaintiffs further alleged that once USAT was made aware of Gitelman’s conduct, it took insufficient steps to protect the victims. While USAT temporarily suspended Gitelman, he was permitted to continue coaching at USAT competitions for several months before being placed on its list of banned coaches.