SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The United States Tennis Association and its Northern California affiliate, USTA NorCal, should have known a former coach was an accused child molester, a new lawsuit says.
The civil suit (Case No. RG19040474) was filed in Alameda County Superior Court by attorney Robert Allard of Corsiglia McMahon & Allard on behalf of the anonymous victim, “W.S.” It alleges that disgraced coach Normandie Burgos, 55, should not have been granted access to young tennis athletes, including W.S., who was first molested by Burgos when he was just 13 years old.
In August 2019, Burgos was sentenced to 255 years in prison after being found guilty of 60 counts of molesting W.S. and another young teen.
Both teens trained under Burgos, who ran a private tennis clinic called the Burgos Tennis Foundation.
“We believe Burgos and/or his foundation were approved for USTA and USTA NorCal membership in 2011,” attorney Robert Allard said. “That’s three years after he was fired from Tamalpais High School for sexual misconduct. What’s truly amazing, though, is that even though Burgos was stripped of his California teaching credential in 2011, he was allowed to become a USTA tennis coach.”
USTA is the national governing body for tennis. Its 17 regional affiliates, including USTA NorCal, are training grounds for Olympic hopefuls. They are subject to USTA’s “Safe Play” program, which prohibits child abuse and sexual misconduct; it also says that coaches’ criminal backgrounds should be checked every two years at a minimum.
The lawsuit calls out the tennis associations for not performing “any background screening on Burgos or Burgos Foundation before they approved their membership … and/or did so in a negligent manner.”
W.S.’s mother reported Burgos to USTA NorCal as soon as she found out he was molesting her son.
“We trusted them with our child’s safety,” the mother said. “Burgos is an evil man who should have been stopped years ago. Instead, people in authority allowed my son to be seduced by a horrible man who did horrible things to him.”
W.S., who is now 20 years old, said Burgos began “grooming” him shortly after he started taking private lessons in 2011.
“It started with inappropriate touches and massages,” W.S. said. “That continued for about a year, then it escalated and he started molesting me. I was afraid, but I was also embarrassed and didn’t know what to do.”
Today, W.S. is in counseling. He suffers from anxiety and depression.
“This never should have happened,” Allard concluded. “My client is suing because USTA disregarded their own policies which were designed to protect children, so he wants to make sure that what happened to him doesn’t happen to anyone else.”