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Lawsuit Filed Against AYSO and Former Coach Sentenced for Child Molestation

A lawsuit has been filed against the American Youth Soccer Organization, the local AYSO district and a former coach who has been sentenced to prison for sexually molesting players.

Filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Pasadena-based attorney Anthony DeMarco, the lawsuit alleges that Terence Paul Stevens used his role as a Lompoc area soccer coach to befriend and sexually molest boys on his teams three decades ago.

The plaintiff, identified as John Doe, claims Stevens molested him from the ages of 11 to 13, or between 1985 to 1989.

The civil complaint alleges negligence against AYSO and AYSO Region 122 plus child sexual abuse against the two soccer groups, the former coach and several unnamed defendants.

AYSO representatives at the group’s Torrance headquarters and Region 122 in Santa Barbara were not available for comment.

Stevens is currently imprisoned in Arizona for similar crimes, but then must serve a 30-year sentence in California for sexually molesting three different victims in the Lompoc area, according to the terms of a June 2013 guilty plea in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

The civil lawsuit contends that in 1982, before the incidents involving the plaintiff, soccer league officials apparently learned Stevens spent the night alone with 11- to 12-year-old boys in a house. League officials never questioned players although the incidents violated AYSO rules intended to prevent abuse, according to the complaint.

Additionally, the organization’s leaders never issued written warnings and did not impose any discipline although they allegedly knew Stevens was engaged in “grooming” behaviors to gain his victims’ trust.

In 1988, Stevens was arrested for abusing the boy in this case, reportedly admitting to pulling down the victim’s pants and grabbing his bare genitals. The man also admitted spending the night alone with the victim, the complaint states.

“AYSO, after the 1988 investigation, again failed to question plaintiff or any other child soccer players who were known to be spending time alone with Stevens against AYSO rules designed to prevent sexual abuse,” the complaint says. “Neither AYSO nor AYSO Region 122 ever gave any written warnings to Stevens or imposed any form of discipline despite their continued awareness of his violation of AYSO and AYSO Region 122 rules.”

The crimes occurred nearly 30 years ago, but the lawsuit cites the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which postpones a victim’s statute of limitations while serving in the armed forces. 

The victim has served in the military since he was 19 years old and now lives in Broward County, Fla. 

Due to the molestation, the victim has emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation and loss of enjoyment of life, the lawsuit contends. He has and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy and counseling.

The victim is seeking compensatory damages, injunctive relief, costs, attorneys’ fees and more.

The fact AYSO officials did not investigate the complaints or fire Stevens from coaching means they essentially ratified the abuse, leading to severe emotional distress, pain and suffering and economic damages, the complaint contends.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced in 2012 that detectives were seeking other potential victims of the then 52-year-old Stevens, whom they said faced 17 felony counts of lewd acts with a child, oral copulation of a minor and sodomy with a minor involving two Lompoc-area victims.

The victim’s attorney said there are multiple victims of Stevens’ abuse and doesn’t know if others will join the civil lawsuit.

Stevens also worked and volunteered in the San Diego area. 

DeMarco, an attorney for the plaintiff, noted that Stevens has a pattern of abuse.

“He's been convicted in two states and will spend the rest of his life in jail. But the people who knew about his abuse and did nothing — the people who knew Stevens was taking kids overnight to his empty home — need to be held accountable,” DeMarco said. “Otherwise, how can we be sure that the cover-up at AYSO has ended?”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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