USA Volleyball has formally announced the lifetime ban over Rick Butler over allegations that he had inappropriate sexual relationships with underage players during his career. This is not the first time that Butler has been banned from USA Volleyball, as they issued the same verdict on him in 1995 before lifting his lifetime suspension from the organization in 2000. This reinstatement into USA Volleyball came with the stipulation that he never coach junior girls in any of the organization’s events.
Though it was just released that Butler was banned, he said to the Chicago Sun-Times that he was banned following the hearing that took place back on December 11, 2017 – a hearing not on the validity of the accusations made against him, but rather a hearing on whether he violated the organization’s rules by revealing the identities of his accusers in public. The only condition that USA Volleyball‘s statement declares resulted in a ban was the revealing of the identities of his accusers, but a spokesperson confirmed that he was given lifetime bans from each of the 2 hearings based on 2 different rules violations.
Below is the statement made by USA Volleyball:
A hearing panel of the USA Volleyball Ethics and Eligibility Committee today issued a decision finding that Rick Butler had engaged in multiple acts in violation of USA Volleyball’s Bylaws, and banned him for life from membership in USA Volleyball. USA Volleyball had received allegations of misconduct and abuse against Mr. Butler from a number of individuals, including several former players, which led USA Volleyball to bring a disciplinary action against Mr. Butler for violation of USA Volleyball’s Bylaws and rules. A hearing was held on those allegations on January 8, 2018. Since Mr. Butler is now suspended for life, this means that he is ineligible to participate, and will forever be ineligible to participate, in any activities organized, operated, run or sanctioned by USA Volleyball.
“We are very grateful to the courageous women who came forward,” said Lori Okimura, Chair of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors. “USA Volleyball is committed, through the U.S. Center for SafeSport program, to ridding our sport of coaches and others who engage in hurtful actions against athletes and young people. We will continue to have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.”
In addition, on December 11, 2017, a USA Volleyball Ethics and Eligibility Committee hearing panel found that Mr. Butler had violated a protective order – issued by the hearing panel to protect the privacy of the alleged victims – when he released the names of those alleged victims to the public. The hearing panel suspended Mr. Butler for life from membership in USA Volleyball for these violations.
Butler has called the lawsuit “false and maliciously motivated” to the Chicago Sun-Times, while also holding to his statement of “never sexually abused any individual.” Additionally, his wife, Cheryl Butler said, “USA Volleyball has shown once again the facts and the truth do not matter an that they will literally go to any lengths of corruption to push their agenda through.”
It is said, per Butler that any of the said relationships that he had with his former players happened after they were 18 and were consensual relationships.
The allegations and resurfacing of Butler’s misconduct started with Sarah Powers-Barnhard as she tried to file a lawsuit against Butler just last year to have him banned once again from coaching youths. Powers-Barnhard was one of Butler’s many victims over the years, along with Julie Bremner Romias and Christine Brigman Tuzi who named themselves in the lawsuit.
Along with USA Volleyball, Powers-Barnhard also filed a lawsuit with the AAU, another large governing body of youth sports to ban Butler, as he is still allowed to coach in AAU events since it is a separate entity from USA Volleyball.
The AAU handbook states:
“It is the policy of the AAU to deny participation in the AAU to any individual for whom there is reasonable cause to believe that they have engaged in sexual misconduct.”
Still looming for Butler is a hearing set for January 22, 2018, to have the AAU look at the possibility of banning Butler from coaching youth players within their organization.