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Wed, May 08, 2024

US Tennis Association ordered to pay $9 million to victim in sexual abuse case

US Tennis Association ordered to pay $9 million to victim in sexual abuse case

A tennis player was awarded $9 million in damages by a jury in federal court in Florida after accusing the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) of failing to protect her from a coach she said sexually abused her at one of its training centers when she was a teenager.

The lawsuit, filed by Kylie McKenzie in March 2022, said Anibal Aranda, who was employed by the sport’s national governing body for about seven years and later fired, used his position as a USTA coach to get access to vulnerable female athletes and commit sexual battery against them. McKenzie was 19 and Aranda was 34 when she alleges he abused her.

Her lawsuit said the USTA negligently failed to protect her from sexual assaults and was negligent in keeping Aranda as a coach after he sexually assaulted a USTA employee.

Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA would appeal.

"We are sympathetic to the plaintiff and what she endured. We do not -- and have never -- disputed her allegations against a coach," Widmaier said.

He said the USTA was "deeply troubled" by the decision, including that "the court ruled that the USTA was liable because one of its employees -- a non-athlete -- had an obligation to report her own experience with this coach to the USTA; an incident that was unknown until after the USTA removed the coach. This sets a new and unreasonable expectation for victims, one that will deter them from coming forward in the future."

The jury in Florida awarded McKenzie $3m in compensation and added $6m in punitive damages on Monday.

“I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I feel validated,” McKenzie said in a statement on Tuesday. “It was very hard, but I feel now that it was all worth it. I hope I can be an example for other girls to speak out even when it’s difficult.”

The AP generally doesn’t name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but McKenzie agreed to let her identity be used in news coverage about her lawsuit.

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