Suburban volleyball coach Rick Butler facing yet another career threat

SHARE Suburban volleyball coach Rick Butler facing yet another career threat

A lawsuit accusing powerhouse youth volleyball coach Rick Butler of sexually abusing teenage girls in the 1980s made national headlines earlier this year. And publicly, Butler and his wife have had little to say about it. | Stacie Scott/Lincoln Journal Star

Dominant west suburban youth volleyball coach Rick Butler already faced new allegations of sexual abuse that threatened his successful career.

Now, volleyball’s national governing body has doubled-down on its effort to expel Butler from its ranks, alleging last week that the owner of Sports Performance Volleyball in Aurora improperly revealed sensitive information, including the names of his new accusers, court records show.

USA Volleyball wants an “emergency hearing” on the matter, according to a document filed Tuesday in DuPage County Circuit Court by his attorney, Terry Ekl.

Meanwhile, Butler also expects to face a hearing in a parallel issue — alleging new claims of sexual abuse — starting Jan. 8, according to Ekl’s filing. Those allegations were first reported last month in the Chicago Sun-Times series “Net Pains.”

Sexual abuse allegations have dogged Butler for 22 years. But the devil has always been in the details. And Ekl’s filing suggests USA Volleyball could wind up expelling Butler from its ranks on a procedural matter.

A USA Volleyball attorney declined to comment. Lawyers for Butler and the sports organization are expected to appear Thursday in DuPage County court.

The decades-long saga began in the 1990s when Sarah Powers-Barnhard, Julie Romias and Christine Tuzi alleged Butler sexually abused them while he was their coach in the 1980s. They each alleged they were under 18 when they were abused. Butler would have been in his 20s and early 30s.

USA Volleyball banned Butler from its ranks “for life” in 1995, but it partially rescinded the ban in 2000. His teams also participate in other youth sports organizations, including the massive Amateur Athletic Union.


Coach Rick Butler, his players and the damage done

One coach, two very different portraits

Amid sex scandal, police probed death of Butler’s son

Rick Butler faces new accuser, new fight

Butler is one of the country’s most dominant youth volleyball coaches, and a DuPage County judge noted earlier this year that “you can’t live in the western suburbs and not know” of his club, Sports Performance.

Now a fourth woman, Beth Rose of Norridge, alleges Butler sexually abused her in 1983, when she was 16, while he shared an apartment with her mother. A fifth alleged sexual abuse victim has also “elected to remain silent,” according to a year-old USA Volleyball internal complaint filed against Butler.

That complaint also identified a woman — who asked that her name not be published — who claims Butler made inappropriate comments toward her when she was a player on his team. She has declined to comment.

The USA Volleyball complaint is at the heart of the parallel matters now threatening Butler’s career. The planned Jan. 8 hearing would likely deal with the substance of the complaint, though it’s not clear where the hearing will take place.

But that document only became public through an unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Butler earlier this year to thwart USA Volleyball’s expulsion efforts. USA Volleyball alleged the document was subject to a protective order forbidding its disclosure.

Now, USA Volleyball wants an “emergency hearing” over Butler’s alleged violation of that protective order, records show.

Ekl countered that Butler’s accusers gave “extensive interviews” to the Sun-Times. And he said USA Volleyball’s position means Butler is “forbidden from responding to the accusations made against him, in direct response to requests for comment, even though his accusers are giving interviews on camera.”

The attorney wrote that Butler wants a hearing as soon as possible on the issue and might sue if expelled.

Rose told the Sun-Times she was not aware of the planned January hearing, but would be willing to speak if asked.

Powers-Barnhard and Romias said they were not aware of the January hearing either. But Powers-Barnhard said, “I’m happy.”

“It’s so good to hear,” she said. “It’s great to hear there is something being done proactively.”

The Latest
With the 11-inning victory, the Cubs are now 5-11 in extra-inning games.
“Regardless of whether you’re going back-to-back or winning a championship, it takes a different mentality each time and the thought that it’s an entirely different season,” Candace Parker said.
Steele said he hopes to feel comfortable with a “bona fide” third pitch by next season.
Gavin Sheets’ two-run pinch double in the seventh and Yoan Moncada’s go-ahead single in the eighth propelled the Sox to their fifth victory in a row.