| Sep 21, 2020 | Youth Athletic Organizations


In September 2020, Horowitz Law filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly sexually abused while she was enrolled during the 2019 summer session at the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County located at 877 NW 61st Street in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The suit describes how a 17-year-old male club member sexually assaulted the girl, who was between her seventh and eighth grades in school.

The girl’s mother enrolled her daughter in the summer 2019 Youth Education Success Program with the understanding that she would be placed in a group with other club members similar in age and maturity, and that the children would be looked after by responsible adults. Under the classification of club members into age-specific groups, her daughter fell into the “Juniors” (11-13 year olds) category. “Seniors” were between 16-17 years old. The campus design of the Boys & Girls Club provided separate buildings in which the different age groups participated in activities.

Unaware that in the weeks leading up to the assault of her daughter in mid July 2019, “Junior” and “Senior” club members were allowed to spend time together. As such, one 17-year-old club member engaged in lengthy conversations with the 13-year-old and showered her with attention. So much so, that an instructor and employee of the  Boys & Girls Club, admitted under oath that he had to repeatedly reprimand the “Senior” to stay in his assigned seat.

In the late afternoon of July 16, 2019, while in the computer lab together with other club members, the “Junior” girl and “Senior” boy sat near each other, talked and engaged in friendly horseplay. Soon after, the boy moved his seat directly next to the younger girl. Usually, two adults supervised the computer lab, but not on this date. The boy started touching the girl’s thighs and moved his hand up to her vaginal area. When he inserted his fingers into her vagina she repeatedly told him “No!”

Eventually, the one supervisor present realized that the boy was acting inappropriately and sent him out of the lab. He never once asked the girl if she was okay and failed to offer any help. Furthermore, he did not report the sexual abuse at that time. Since the incident, the girl has suffered severe emotional trauma and has been hospitalized multiple times.

The Boys & Girls Club of America advertises its local clubs as having access to all the resources of the national organization, which serves 4 million children a year at 4,300 facilities.  A Hearst Media investigation in 2019 found an alarming 250 victims in 30 states who say they were sexually abused as children at the hands of employees, volunteers and other members of Boys & Girls Club of America affiliates. There is an expectation of trust when parents enroll their children in youth groups like the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County. As it is stated on their website, “The Safety and Well-being of Young People is Our Number One Priority.” Claims of offering a safe, fun environment for kids, “ZERO tolerance for inappropriate behavior of any kind, including child sexual abuse or misconduct”, fall flat. This is especially true when the organization claims it provides “significant resources to ensure this priority is achieved.” The very act they say they can ensure does not happen…does, and sadly, did.

Sexual abuse by a youth club employee or member not only breaches the trust of parents and their children, but it breaks the law. Any youth organization or institution in which sexual abuse is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly safeguard members and to protect the public.

Horowitz Law has made obtaining justice for people sexually abused in the Boys & Girls Club a cornerstone of its sexual abuse practice. If you or someone you know have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery while involved with the Boys & Girls Club, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.