Sports

U.S. Tennis accused of downplaying sexual abuse and trying to silence Pam Shriver

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The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) is facing allegations that one of its top lawyers, Staciellen Mischel, has attempted to cover up instances of sexual abuse, including advising U.S. Tennis champion and abuse survivor Pam Shriver to be cautious when discussing the issue. Stevie Gould, a former college player who successfully sued the USTA in 2020 over its failure to protect young players from a known sexual predator, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Center for Safesport. The complaint seeks punishment for Mischel’s actions in Gould’s case and another involving a predatory tennis coach. Safesport is responsible for investigating claims of sexual and physical abuse and harassment in sports..


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Staciellen Mischel, a top lawyer for the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), is facing allegations that she attempted to cover up instances of sexual abuse within the sport, including advising tennis champion and abuse survivor Pam Shriver to exercise caution when discussing the issue. Former college player Stevie Gould, who previously sued the USTA over its failure to protect young players from a known sexual predator, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Center for Safesport, seeking punishment for Mischel’s actions in his case and another involving a predatory U.S. Tennis coach. Safesport is responsible for investigating claims of sexual and physical abuse and harassment in sports.

The complaint mentions an incident in the spring of 2022 when Mischel walked Shriver to her car following a fundraising dinner and advised her to “be careful” about her public statements on sexual abuse in tennis. Shriver interpreted the conversation as a warning not to “say too much.”

Gould’s complaint alleges that Mischel used a similar approach in his case nine years ago. In a 2014 email, Mischel urged the leader of the Northern California section of the USTA to keep information about a police investigation of a prominent coach named Normandie Burgos and his suspension from USTA activities confidential. Burgos went on to abuse Gould the following year and was convicted of molestation.

Gould’s complaint describes Mischel as “morally unfit” to serve in her current capacity for a national governing body and claims that she poses a danger to children in tennis. The USTA has defended its actions, stating that it would never stifle anyone from telling their story of abuse. Mischel has not been made available for an interview.

In a deposition, Mischel testified that she warned Shriver privately to keep her distance from Robert Allard, a top lawyer for plaintiffs in cases of sexual abuse in sports, whom Mischel described as not “a nice person.”

The USTA maintains that it acted properly and in accordance with the law in handling the cases involving sexual abuse allegations. Shriver has become an ally of sexual abuse survivors in U.S. Tennis and testified that Mischel’s conversation made her feel cautious about speaking out on the issue.

Shriver says U.S. Tennis

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Shriver says she was asked to keep quiet About U.S. Tennis

The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) is facing significant controversy and allegations related to its handling of sexual abuse cases within the sport. Allegations have been made against Staciellen Mischel, the USTA’s deputy chief legal officer and top lawyer for the USTA Foundation, regarding her actions in cases involving sexual abuse.

Stevie Gould, who previously successfully sued the USTA over its failure to protect young players from a known sexual predator, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Center for Safesport against Mischel. The complaint alleges that Mischel attempted to cover up instances of sexual abuse and discouraged individuals, including tennis champion Pam Shriver, from discussing the issue.

In one incident, Mischel reportedly advised Shriver to “be careful” about her public statements on sexual abuse in tennis, leading Shriver to interpret the conversation as a warning not to “say too much.”

Gould’s complaint also mentions a 2014 email in which Mischel requested that information about a coach named Normandie Burgos and his suspension from USTA activities remain confidential. Burgos later abused Gould, who did not become aware of the email until years later.

Shriver, a prominent figure in American tennis, has become an advocate for sexual abuse survivors in tennis and testified in a case involving Kylie McKenzie, who sued the USTA over its failure to protect her from a coach’s inappropriate behavior.

The controversy has led to an awkward conflict between the USTA and Shriver, who has served as a high-profile volunteer for the organization.

In addition to the Safesport complaint, Robert Allard, a top lawyer for plaintiffs in cases of sexual abuse in sports, along with Marci Hamilton and Nancy Hogshead-Makar, has called on U.S. Congress to investigate the USTA’s handling of sexual abuse cases.

The USTA has defended its actions and maintains that it acted properly and in accordance with the law in handling the cases involving sexual abuse allegations.

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