A 14-year-old’s soccer trip to Colombia earlier this year turned into a nightmare when his Weston teammates sexually assaulted him, according to a lawsuit filed in Broward Circuit Court.
The teen boys played for Weston FC, a well-known and highly regarded soccer club, said Andrew Yaffa, the attorney representing the teen’s family.
The family is suing the soccer club and the six boys the lawsuit claims were involved in the assault. They range in age from 15 to 20.
The victim’s father told deputies that he is not pursuing criminal charges, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office report. The family filed the civil lawsuit on May 29.
Weston FC said Tuesday that the soccer club has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment.
“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 US Center for SafeSport as required by federal law and our National Governing Body,” according to the statement.
In January, the boy’s parents paid $2,000 to the soccer club so their son could attend the Colombia trip, the lawsuit said. They were told coaches and other staff members would supervise the children on the trip.
Once the boys arrived in Colombia on Jan. 26, they were taken to Hotel Lagoon in Antigua, the lawsuit said. The boys were assigned three to a room according to age.
Two days later while walking back to their rooms from dinner, the 14-year-old and his roommates were confronted by older boys in the club who were not allowed to be on their floor, the lawsuit said.
They picked the teen off his feet and demanded the roommates let them into the room. There was no soccer club staff around to see the boys forced into the room, the lawsuit said.
The older boys threw the victim onto the bed and held him face-down. Then they used a Sharpie marker to sodomize him, the suit said. After the assault, the older boys threatened the victim and the roommates to keep quiet, Yaffa said.
Yaffa said the incident came to the attention of staff when one of the coaches was investigating sightings of e-cigarettes a few days later.
The club then sent home the six boys involved, Yaffa said, and did not report the incident to Colombian or American authorities.
“In this age of social media, everybody knew what had happened to him before he even made it back in the United States,” Yaffa said. “He got to school, he was bullied. He’s getting therapy and he will be for the foreseeable future.”
In the lawsuit, the family did not specify monetary damages they are seeking.