Rick Butler, one of America’s most well-known youth volleyball coaches, stands accused of raping hundreds of teenagers under his supervision across a period of more than 30 years.
Butler is the longtime figurehead behind the Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The class action suit he now finds himself defending against levies charges that he raped teenage girls who he coached on the summer AAU circuit and other club opportunities.
Two women in particular have come forth to detail their horrific encounters with Butler, who began a sexual relationship with both when they were 16, as reported by the Huffington Post:
Christine Tuzi says in the lawsuit she was 16 when Butler raped her for the first time. He forced her into “hundreds of unprotected sexual encounters” over the next few years, the suit says, until she became pregnant with his child at the age of 19.
Tuzi told the New York Daily News in 2016 that Butler told her to “get rid of it”after learning she was pregnant. According to the suit, Butler took Tuzi to an abortion clinic, and immediately after the procedure, forced her to masturbate him in a hotel room.
Another young woman, Sarah Powers-Barnhard, says in the lawsuit that Butler began raping her when she was 16. She says the coach forced her to watch pornographic films so she could “learn” from them, and would secretly fondle her in public ― sometimes within “just feet” of her teammates.
These stories are, quite naturally, horrific. Yet what’s even worse is that the coach continued to lead his program on the national volleyball and AAU circuits. Now that has come to an end, with Butler banned from AAU competition shortly after he was given the boot by USA Volleyball. Those bans almost certainly came as a result of the lawsuit against Butler, which was filed by Laura Martin, the mother of a player who was allegedly assaulted by Butler across multiple years.
Butler’s suit names multiple alleged victims, while also singling out both Mullin and his wife for their actions, “attempting to conceal a history of sexual abuse while also attempting to intimidate or discredit the accusers.
For his part, Butler has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that any sexual contact he had with the athletes came after they turned 18, thereby refuting what a number of the victims in the pending case attested to.
In the meantime, Butler stands away from the sidelines, outside of the glare of women’s volleyball circuit.