WESTON, FLA. (WSVN) - - The family of a 14-year-old boy has filed a civil lawsuit after, they said, several players on his Weston soccer team sexually assaulted him during a recent trip to Colombia.
Weston FC is known as one of the most highly regarded soccer clubs in the country, but now it has been hit by this lawsuit after, the alleged victim said, his own teammates held him down and sodomized him while on a team trip.
Andy Yaffa, the teen’s attorney, spoke to 7News on Monday.
“Some older kids apparently decided to put the younger kids through some kind of hazing ritual,” he said.
Speaking with 7News Monday night, the concerned mother of another Weston FC member said the alleged incident left her disturbed.
“It was a silent culture. They didn’t talk, period,” said the mother, who asked not to be identified.
Several teams from Weston FC were staying at Hotel Lagoon in Medellín for a soccer tournament in late January.
The mother who spoke with 7News said her son was also on that trip.
“Some kids looked angry, and you were asking, ‘What happened?'” she said.
On Jan. 29, three days into the trip, the alleged victim and his roommates went upstairs to their room after eating dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. They said a group of older players met them in the hallway.
“They grabbed this young man and his roommates. They forced them to open the door to their room, forced them into the room, and the young man was sexually assaulted in front of his teammates,” said Yaffa.
The attorney said the teen’s alleged attackers are between the ages of 15 and 20.
“We’re dealing with a young man whose life has been forever altered as a result of this,” he said.
Yaffa said the teen and his roommates alerted their coach, Marcelo Valdivia, about the sexual assault. He said the coach sent the defendants home.
According to a Broward Sheriff’s Office report taken later, Valdivia did not contact local police at the time.
“Our investigation, unfortunately, has given us indication that this may not be the first time that this type of hazing has happened. They may have prior knowledge of things like this happening, and they failed to take appropriate action to prevent it from happening again,” said Yaffa.
Yaffa said the ordeal has left his client in a distraught mental state.
“He is traumatized physically, emotionally, psychologically,” he said. “He reported this to his parents as soon as he got home. They took him immediately to, reportedly, authorities. He had to go get examined physically. He’s been going to therapy ever since. This is a tragedy.”
BSO officials said the teen’s family does not want to pursue criminal charges to avoid excess strain on the family but are going ahead with the civil suit.
“We have sued the Weston Football Club for taking these children on this competition to Medellín and failing to have in place appropriate supervision and folks in place to protect these children,” said Yaffa. “We’ve also filed a complaint against the attackers themselves.”
Weston FC spokesperson Audrey Young released a statement that read, “Weston FC has a zero tolerance policy for un-sportsman like behavior, harassment, bullying, intimidation, or violence of any kind; therefore, when we received a report of an incident on a recent international trip, Weston FC immediately suspended all players alleged to have been involved and promptly made a report to the U.S. Center for SafeSport as required by federal law and our National Governing Body.”
The mother who spoke with 7News said that among Weston FC members’ families, they are keeping the incident quiet, but she would rather have them address it head on.
“The message to the kids is wrong, because they’re thinking, ‘Who’s going to defend me?'” she said. “Whoever is responsible should be held accountable and the kids will stop the culture.”
SafeSport is investigating the allegations and could impose sanctions such as suspension and ineligibility for the accused players.
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