Fourth Women's Soccer Player Sues Butler Alleging Athletic Trainer Abuse

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A fourth woman has filed suit against Butler University for alleged sexual misconduct by an athletic trainer while she played on the school’s women’s soccer team.

As reported by Katie Strang of The Athletic, Jane Doe 4, as she is identified in the complaint, joins three other former women’s soccer players who said they were sexually assaulted by Michael Howell and filed suit against the school last month.

Related: Ex-Butler Women's Soccer Players Claim Athletic Trainer Abused Them

The latest accuser said that Howell, an athletic trainer with the university from 2012 to 2022, sexually assaulted her during treatments, including rubbing his erect penis on her hand; touching her breasts, labia and groin; and pressing his groin against her buttocks.

According to the complaint cited in Strang's report, Howell’s sexual misconduct began when Jane Doe 4 was a sophomore in 2019 and continued until her senior year. Jane Doe 4 became so uncomfortable with the treatments that she would wear two sports bras and/or underwear beneath her spandex “to feel more protected.” Howell would massage her groin even though she did not have a groin injury and she noted his breathing became heavier when he’d massage that area. She said she felt “afraid, anxious and paralyzed” during these treatments.

In the earlier complaints filled in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis last month, three former women's soccer players claim that Howell shared pornographic video clips and, in one instance, attempted to silence a victim by threatening to reveal potentially damaging information. As reported by the Indianapolis Star, the former players say Howell used hotel room massage sessions and special training outside his official duties "to build trust, isolate, and weaponized the young women’s desires to be the best athletes they could be."

At the time the initial lawsuits were filed, an attorney representing the former athletes claimed to know of at least six women who had come forward about abuse allegedly perpetuated by Howell on and off the university’s campus — in training rooms, private hotels, buses transporting the team and various other locations, the Star reported at the time.

"One of the reasons our clients filed this lawsuit is so that other survivors will know they are not alone," attorney Monice Beck said. "In this day and age, knowing the abuse Larry Nassar perpetrated under the guise of providing medical treatment, it is inexcusable that this has happened on Butler's watch."

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