Parents sue coach over undisclosed sex assault allegations

Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 23:58:52-04

A volleyball coach accused of having sex with teenage players decades ago--- Parents wonder why teams still play in his gym- and why he's still around young girls.

The lawsuit for more than five million dollars in damages claims Great Lakes Center and Sports Performance Volleyball Club didn't give parents enough information about Rick Butler's sexual assault allegations. His accusers are now giving support to those parents wondering why he was on the court with their kids.

Julie Romias said she was a high school junior when the abuse began.

"He started saying verbally inappropriate things," she said. She said she was too embarrassed to say anything. She said it got worse.

"He pushed me down on the bed, held my hands above my head and raped me," Romias told the I-Team.

Romias said she was ashamed.

"I felt like who was going to believe me anyway, he made it clear that he was very powerful," she said.

Rick Butler owns one of the biggest volleyball clubs in the Midwest- Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Aurora, Illinois. Romias and several other women come forward in the mid-1990's with sexual assault allegations against him. He was never charged because the statute of limitations had expired.

"I couldn't change what he did to me," explained Romias. "I was going to do everything in my power to try to prevent it from happening to a girl after me."

After that, USA Volleyball banned Butler from coaching junior girls at their events.

However- Butler continued coaching. USA Volleyball said it "does not have jurisdiction over events run by other groups including the JVA and AAU, which did allow Mr. Butler to continue coaching junior girls in their programs despite the USA Volleyball sanction." 

In February of this year, after the lawsuit was filed, Amateur Athletic Union banned Butler, and the Junior Volleyball Association issued an indefinite suspension.

The I-Team drove the two hours down to Aurora to try and find Rick Butler and see what he has to say about the accusations, we're told he was not at the center and we didn't find him at home. Butler's attorney couldn't comment, but tells the I-Team this is a breach of contract case and he is in the beginning stages of investigating those claims.

"I think it's important at this point that people take a stand," Romias said.

One way she said people can do that is by taking away Butler's income.

Each team in the Great Lakes Power League pays almost 1,500 dollars to play at the Great Lakes Center.
The I-Team identified 12 local teams from the latest standings who have played there, including; Wisconsin Premier, Adversity-Wisconsin, Motion Volleyball Program, River City Volleyball, and The Milwaukee Sting. All these teams we talked to said they're re-evaluating their plans to be part of the Great Lakes Power League for this coming season. The other area teams who also play in the league according to the website, didn't respond to messages left for comment.

The I-Team talked to Sting coach Ted Schulte. Last year, he fired one of his coaches who was accused of sexual assault. He said his team is finishing out their contract to play in the Great Lakes Power League.

"I'm comfortable with being there in the sense that no one is interacting with our players that i have any concerns with," Schulte said.

Schulte said he is disgusted by what Butler is accused of. But, he said his job is to give his athletes good competition in a safe environment. He said sports performance turns out great players.

"To play against his players, we have to play against their team, if we play at their facility, he gets money from that," he said.

Schulte tells us college scouts, traditionally recruit from the Great Lakes Center.

"[It]could increase our cost," he explained. "We have to go farther away to find better competition."

Volleyball parent Matt Jaworski disagrees.

His daughter plays for a local volleyball club- and they don't play in Butler's league.

"I certainly would not want my daughter to ever run the risk of coming in contact with somebody who's been accused of what Rick Butler has been accused of."