For Immediate Release, May 17, 2022
Four men, who were sexually abused as children by their now former youth soccer coach, Terence Stevens, have filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the abuse was caused by the negligence of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). According to the lawsuit, four separate complaints of suspected child molestation were made to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but that those complaints were neither properly investigated nor cross-reported to other child protective agencies, as was required by law. The suit alleges that because of the negligence of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office and the American Youth Soccer Association, numerous children were sexually molested by Stevens from the 1980’s to the 2000’s in Lompoc and in San Diego County where Stevens coached youth soccer teams. In 2013 Stevens was criminally prosecuted and convicted, after he was caught on video tape molesting a child. He was convicted of sexually abusing numerous children and is serving a 30 year prison sentence.
The suit alleges that in response to the first complaint of suspected molestation in 1982, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff failed to interview the suspected victims or their families and failed to cross-report the suspected abuse to child protective service agencies as is required by California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. At the time, the Sheriff’s investigating officer noted in his report that Terence Stevens was the varsity soccer coach for a high school in Lompoc, CA and an AYSO youth soccer coach. The lawsuit alleges additional complaints of suspected child molestation in 1989, and two in 1991 similarly were not cross-reported and were not properly investigated. Each time by the same Sheriff’s investigator.
“The failure to properly respond to complaints Terence Stevens was sexually abusing children caused countless children to be sexually molested by Stevens over his more than three decade long soccer coaching career.” Said Anthony M. DeMarco, the attorney representing Plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and its investigation and cross-reporting requirements were established to ensure as much diligence and expertise as possible are put into responding to complaints of suspected sexual abuse of children. These laws were not followed by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Department, and because of it a serial predator like Terence Stevens was allowed for decades to ravage the lives of this community’s children.” Said Anthony M. DeMarco. “It is our belief that this failure was part of a broader policy and practice of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department of not cross-reporting complaints of suspected child sexual abuse to other children protective agencies.” Said Anthony DeMarco.
The present lawsuit was filed using a window in the civil statute of limitations which allows for the filing of child sexual abuse lawsuits regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. That window will close on December 31, 2022.
Anthony M. DeMarco Esq and at least one of the Plaintiffs in the action will be available to speak to media. Press inquiries should be directed to and via phone at (310) 927-9277. The conformed copy of the lawsuit naming the County of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the American Youth Soccer Association as defendants can be downloaded HERE. Also available are pictures of Terence Stevens as well as records pertaining to one of his criminal convictions.
Anthony M DeMarco, Esq. has specialized for more than 20 years in representing child sexual abuse victims in actions against youth serving organizations in California. His office is located in Pasadena, California.