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Three former U.S. collegiate athletes accuse coach John Rembao of sexual harassment

Three women coached by John Rembao at the universities of Texas and Arizona have accused him of sexual harassment

Three former U.S. collegiate track and field athletes hope to launch a class action lawsuit in California against their former coach, John Rembao, for alleged sexual harassment. Rembao’s specialty is high jump, and he has coached multiple Olympians, collegiate champions and NCAA All-Americans. In December, he was suspended from coaching by the U.S. Center for SafeSport following allegations of misconduct.

 

Rembao coached at many schools, most notably the University of Arizona and the University of Texas. These schools are where he met and coached the women whom he allegedly sexually abused. Of the women, two are high jumpers, and the third is Londa Bevins, a middle-distance runner who was coached by Rembao at Texas. Each of these women worked with Rembao in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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The three women filed a class-action complaint against the NCAA, the NCAA board of governors and Rembao for alleged sexual harassment and sexual abuse during their time coached by Rembao. They said they informed their schools of the alleged abuse at the time, but that nothing was done about it.

They filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California, and are seeking class-action status, punitive damages and the adoption of corrective measures by the NCAA.

Based on the laws regarding sexual abuse in Arizona and Texas, the statute of limitations has expired in each of these cases, but the women hope that exceptions will be made by the court. They are also hopeful that their lawsuit will encourage other athletes who may have been abused to come forward, according to the trio’s lawyer, as reported by USA Today.

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Rembao allegedly engaged in sexual relationships with each of these women. Bevins recalls going to Rembao’s office for weekly private meetings.

“He would lock the door, pet my head, kiss my neck and threaten my scholarship,” Bevins told USA Today. “If he tells you to come to his office, you go. He’s in charge of your scholarship.” Bevins eventually couldn’t handle it any more, and ended up transferring from Texas to the University of Arkansas.

“I still feel like the whole system failed me,” she said. “If that’s what success looks like, that’s terrible.”

In 1992, the U.S. Olympic Committee prohibited all sexual contact between coaches and athletes. The lawsuit says that, regarding this issue, “the NCAA took no action for 20 years.” Even today, sexual assault is not an official NCAA violation.