SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The law firm of Estey & Bomberger has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit on behalf of a young Southern California soccer player abused by convicted coach Stephen Morgan. Named in the lawsuit (Riverside County Superior Court) are prominent Los Angeles-area soccer organizations, including the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and UK International Soccer (UKIS), along with the official governing body of soccer, the United States Soccer Federation.
The lawsuit states that the sexual abuse victim was a player for an AYSO club in Southern California and was placed into a soccer camp run by UK International Soccer, an organization founded in Orange County thirty years ago and today headquartered in Redlands.
AYSO has a player development agreement with UKIS and regularly places young underage players into UKIS camps. UKIS claims to have an international coaching staff from 29 different countries from across the world and a partnership with The English Football Association to provide coaching opportunities in the USA.
The lawsuit alleges that UKIS brought Stephen Morgan from the UK to Southern California to coach AYSO players through a partnership with UKIS. On a work visa and without a home, UKIS persuaded the family of the victim to house Morgan. Morgan violated the trust of the family and immediately began grooming and then sexually abusing the young player. When the victim confided the abuse to his mother, police were called, and Morgan was arrested at a Redlands hotel where he had been housed by UKIS after they learned that Morgan was abusing the youngster. Morgan was convicted in 2019 in Riverside County Superior Court and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
“AYSO overlooked and violated its own background check and supervision policies aimed at preventing sexual abuse,” attorney Stephen Estey said. “Had AYSO followed its guidelines, our client would never have been in a situation where he was alone with the coach.” AYSO was established as a non-profit soccer organization in Torrance and reportedly has a membership of over 50,000 teams, with over 630,000 participants.
Attorney Stephen Estey has a long history of using civil litigation to protect minors from youth organizations that fail to protect athletes from predatory coaches. In 2019, Estey secured an $8.2 million settlement on behalf of a young soccer player abused by the failed policies of the US Youth Soccer Association and their affiliate. In that case, the 6th District Appellate Court ruled that organizations had a legal obligation to do background checks on coaches.