A lawsuit alleging that the American Youth Soccer Organization failed to shield four unnamed players in Lancaster, California, from coach Renoir Vincent Valenti, now serving a life sentence for sexually abusing over a dozen kids, was filed on March 3 in Los Angeles.
“AYSO knew, or should have known about Valenti’s sexual abuse of minors and/or his sexually deviant propensities prior to the abuse,” the complaint states.
Last April, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sentenced Valenti, 53, to 130 years to life in state prison after being convicted of molesting 14 boys and a girl over a period of 17 years, beginning in 1995. His victims were between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.
Valenti allegedly met six of his victims, including those only identified in the lawsuit as John Does 1 through 4, while coaching and officiating games for AYSO, the nation’s oldest youth soccer organization with over 500,000 players.
His behavior – which involved inviting young soccer players to his house for parties, dinners and sleepovers where he sometimes shared his bed with the youngsters – alarmed at least one AYSO volunteer who reported the coach to the organization, according to the complaint.
“No remedial action or reporting to lawful civil or criminal authorities was done in response to this volunteer’s complaint,” the lawsuit alleges.
An investigation was initially launched into Valenti’s behavior in 2003, but he was never charged after the relative who had accused him of abuse changed their story. During his 35-day criminal trial the relative testified that after he came forward Valenti had attempted to strangle him and threatened him.
It wasn t until the mother of a 10-year-old boy told detectives in July 2012 that he had molested her son that another investigation was launched and police began questioning his former teammates and residents of various apartment complexes where he had lived.
A total of 58 witnesses testified against Valenti, including one of his former victims who told the court that he was repeatedly molested over several years. He was eventually convicted of five felony counts of continuous child abuse and four felony counts of lewd act upon a child.
“The sexual abuse of our clients has had a devastating effect on their lives,” says attorney Paul Mones, who specializes in representing sexual abuse victims.
AYSO officials declined to return calls from PEOPLE regarding the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages from the organization.