Feb 26, 2024
Ex-NFL player alleges sexual assault by former high school athletic trainer

Shareece Wright, a former NFL player, has come forward publicly as one of 12 anonymous plaintiffs who accused a former California high school athletic trainer of sexually assaulting them while they were minors.

Wright hopes that speaking out, in an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, ‘will stop it from happening to other kids.’

athletic trainerA recent story from ESPN detailed Wright’s interview. Below is an excerpt from the ESPN story.

“The less it’s kept a secret, the harder it is for it to continue to happen,” Wright said.

Wright, 36, was one of six former Colton High School football players who originally sued the Colton Joint Unified School District and former athletic trainer Tiffany Strauss-Gordon in September 2022. The number of plaintiffs has since grown to 12.

Strauss-Gordon, suspended by the district since 2022, has denied allegations raised in the lawsuit and has not been criminally charged. She is the daughter of former Colton football coach Harold Strauss, who died in 2019. Strauss won more than 200 games over three decades as a high school coach. Under his tenure, the Colton team became a football powerhouse and a pipeline to the NFL. In 2011, three Colton players, including Wright, were selected in the NFL draft, the most that year from any high school in the country. Wright was drafted by the Chargers and played in the NFL from 2011 to 2018 for six teams.

Wright told ESPN, and alleged in the lawsuit, that he first got to know Tiffany Strauss, as she was then known, in 2002, during his freshman season at Colton. At the time, he was 15 and she was 21. He alleged that she became increasingly flirtatious, displaying favoritism toward him and giving him a pet nickname, behavior he now recognizes as grooming.

Over the next three years, Wright alleged, Strauss-Gordon touched him inappropriately during treatment sessions and performed oral sex on him in the training room. During his junior year, when Wright was 17, he had multiple sexual encounters with Strauss in the training room, locker room and weight room, he told ESPN. The lawsuit also says he had sex with Strauss during several weekly team dinners at coach Harold Strauss’s home.

“You’ve got football, you’ve got the coach’s daughter, you’ve got a permissive school environment where it’s allowed to happen. I mean, you’ve got sort of a perfect storm of sexual abuse that could be covered up easily,” attorney Morgan Stewart, who represents Wright and eight other plaintiffs, told ESPN.

According to an August 2022 police video, Strauss-Gordon was asked by a police detective why multiple men would make such allegations and responded: “Why do you file a lawsuit? For money.”

“Fundamentally, you have to remember that allegations are just allegations,” Strauss-Gordon’s attorney, Daniel Kolodziej, told ESPN. “I would urge the public to recognize that just because there’s smoke doesn’t mean there’s fire.”

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In California, the age of consent is 18 and adults who engage in sexual activity with minors can be prosecuted for statutory rape. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office told ESPN it did not file charges against Strauss-Gordon because of a lack of sufficient evidence. The Colton Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Stewart told ESPN that an FBI agent and a Department of Justice attorney interviewed one of his clients in April 2023 and were “concerned about the statute of limitations,” but he doesn’t know whether there is an investigation.

To read the full story from ESPN about Wright and his former athletic trainer, click here. 

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