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Kylie McKenzie Sues U.S.T.A., Claiming It Didn’t Keep Her Secure

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Kylie McKenzie, a once-promising tennis player whom an investigation found was “more likely than not” to have been sexually assaulted by a coach at a United States Tennis Association training center, filed a federal lawsuit against the organization on Monday, claiming it had didn’t keep her secure from someone with a history of assaulting women.

Lawyers for McKenzie, 23, who lives in Arizona, said within the filing in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., that the usT.A. had didn’t disclose that the coach, Anibal Aranda, had assaulted one among its employees years before the alleged incident with McKenzie.

The worker said that Aranda had groped her and touched her vagina over her clothes at a Recent York City dance club around 2015, but that she didn’t disclose the incident to anyone. After the worker learned about McKenzie’s accusations, she regretted not reporting her allegations, she told the investigator for the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the organization tasked with investigating sexual and physical abuse claims in sports.

SafeSport suspended Aranda from coaching for 2 years and placed him on probation for an extra two years after finding it more likely than not that he touched McKenzie’s vagina over her clothes and groped her under the guise of showing her a serving technique in 2018, when she was 19.

“As of August of 2018, defendants knew or reasonably must have known of Coach Aranda’s propensity to sexually batter, threaten, harm, assault, and otherwise mentally, physically, and emotionally injure female athletes,” the suit states. Her lawyers say the usT.A. didn’t live as much as its duty of care by failing to have interaction a chaperone for Aranda’s associations with McKenzie and other female athletes, and allowing him to supervise young women in private “after being provided notice that Coach Aranda was inappropriately touching and inappropriately engaging in sexual communications with athletes.”

The lawsuit comes at a time when the national governing bodies for sports are under increasing scrutiny for the people they employ to develop young talent. Female gymnasts who were sexually abused recently reached a $380 million settlement with U.S.A. Gymnastics and america Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

McKenzie’s case also calls attention to what some in tennis have long viewed as systemic problems with the event of young players, who often leave home for training academies, where coaches function mentors, surrogate parents and guardians on trips to tournaments.

Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the usT.A., said the organization doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Widmaier previously said that the organization first learned concerning the 2015 incident after McKenzie filed her grievance because its worker had not told anyone within the organization. After McKenzie filed her grievance over the alleged incident, which she said occurred on a back court at the usT.A.’s Orlando training center, Widmaier said the organization acted immediately to suspend and terminate Aranda.

In his testimony through the SafeSport investigation, Aranda denied ever touching McKenzie inappropriately, either during or after training. He also said he didn’t recall touching one other worker inappropriately. He suggested McKenzie had fabricated a story because she had been told that the usT.A. was planning to stop supporting her. Accusing him of abuse, Aranda said, would make it harder for the organization to chop her off, an assertion U.S.T.A. coaches and McKenzie rejected.

“I would like to be clear, I never touched her vagina,” Aranda told a SafeSport investigator, based on those records. “I never touched her inappropriately. All these items she’s saying are twisted.”

He has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

The SafeSport records are confidential, but The Recent York Times has reviewed a replica of the ultimate ruling, the investigator’s report and notes from the investigator’s interviews with a dozen witnesses, including Aranda. The Times has also reviewed a replica of the police report by an Orlando detective.

In an interview with The Times this month, McKenzie said learning that somebody at the usT.A. could have warned her to be wary of Aranda had doubled her trauma.

“He told me: ‘You’re a champion. I would like to work with you,’” McKenzie said of Aranda. “I had every reason to trust him.”

The suit also alleges that McKenzie endured inappropriate treatment from two other coaches earlier in her training with the usT.A., with one coach berating her for consorting with boys and instructing her to remove all male contacts from her phone and one other joking along with her about undergarments and the way people might think they were a pair once they traveled alone to Texas for a tournament.

McKenzie says she has suffered physical and mental injuries for the reason that incident. Her lawyers argued within the filing that she was entitled to compensation for her physical and emotional distress because the usT.A. didn’t implement and implement proper policies to guard athletes; fostered a culture of inappropriate coach-athlete relationships; and didn’t intervene to forestall the escalation of inappropriate conduct.

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