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New Law Allows Former Student-Athlete To Sue Coach, School

Tabatha Wethal
Gavel Tingey Injury Law Firm Unsplash

A new law in Colorado is allowing a former high school athlete to sue his then-coach and the school district in connection with sexual assaults in 1989.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported that Brian Coursey, 47, was a 14-year-old student at Broomfield High School in Broomfield, Colo., when the assaults began. Coursey is suing his then basketball coach and the Boulder Valley School District related to the assaults.

The lawsuit appears to be the first filed in Boulder County under a new state law that opens up past sexual assaults of minors to civil liability, the Daily Camera reported.

Coursey is asking for unspecified damages from the district and his former freshman coach, Robert T. Osborne Jr., now 77. The lawsuit alleges that Osborne sexually assaulted Coursey over multiple months when he was 14 and 15 during the school year that ended in 1990.”

Coursey reported the assaults to the police in 1995 after "years of suffering and self-doubt," according to the lawsuit. Osborne was arrested, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child and was sentenced to six months in jail and 15 years of probation.

The Daily Camera reported that Osborne couldn’t be reached for comment.

Coursey suffered “extreme emotional and physical distress, loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment, loss of self-image, depression, anxiety, disassociation from self and life circumstances” and a disability, according to the lawsuit.

Responsible parties in the school district appeared to have “deliberately disregarded and covered up” the coach’s suspicious conduct — including using the boys locker rooms, school offices and school meeting rooms to get the student alone — instead of investigating it, according to the lawsuit.

The district also failed in its duty of supervision, allowing employees to isolate students, and failing to implement adequate policies and procedures to detect and report sexual abuse, according to the lawsuit.

Osborne had a history of prior sexual assaults on minors in Pennsylvania when he was hired by Boulder Valley, the lawsuit alleges. Coursey wasn’t contacted by the school district after he reported the allegations and still doesn’t know what actions, if any, were taken to protect other students, according to the lawsuit.

The case, filed in Boulder County District Court, is set for review on March 30.

Boulder Valley spokesman Randy Barber said in a written statement that the district’s practice is not to comment on pending litigation, but added that “the Boulder Valley School District takes all allegations of sexual violence seriously, whether it was today or many years ago.”

The lawsuit was brought under the state’s new Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act, which took effect Jan. 1. The new law allows for people who were sexually assaulted as children to bring lawsuits against both the attacker and, in some cases, organizations that ran youth programs.

The law creates a three-year window in which victims can bring civil claims for assaults that allegedly happened between 1960 and 2022. There is no time limit on future claims for assaults that happen after Jan. 1, 2022.

The case against the Boulder Valley School District is the fourth that Coursey’s lawyer, James W. Avery, has filed under the new law, the Daily Camera reported.

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