Sex abuse victims accuse soccer organization of failing to protect children

Molestation victims of former AYSO coach in Antelope Valley allege the organization failed to protect them

The American Youth Soccer Organization failed to protect children from a former Antelope Valley coach who was convicted last year of molesting 14 boys and a girl, attorneys for four of the victims alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Renoir Vincent Valenti, 55, was convicted of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts and was sentenced in April to 130 years to life in state prison. His sex crimes spanned 17 years beginning in 1995 and involved children ages 8 to 12, prosecutors said.

At least six of the abused children, including some of those identified only as John Does 1 through 4 in the complaint filed Tuesday, were boys he met through coaching or officiating AYSO games, the lawsuit states. Three of the four plaintiffs are now adults; the youngest is 11.

The complaint alleges, among other things, that Valenti “spent an inordinate amount of time” with boys and that he was known to have young soccer players at his house for parties, dinners and sleepovers, sometimes sharing his bed with them.

At least one AYSO volunteer reported her concerns about Valenti’s behavior to the organization, but no action was taken, the lawsuit alleges. Multiple other AYSO volunteers and representatives also observed Valenti’s behavior and were concerned, it states.

“Defendant AYSO knew, or should have known about Valenti’s sexual abuse of minors and/or his sexually deviant propensities prior to the abuse of plaintiffs,” according to the complaint filed by attorneys Paul Mones and Irwin Zalkin, who held a news conference at a hotel adjacent to AYSO headquarters in Torrance to announce its filing Tuesday morning.

The lawsuit does not name Valenti as a defendant. It seeks unspecified damages from the AYSO, a nonprofit organization that bills itself as the oldest youth soccer program in the United States, with 50,000 teams and 500,000 players nationwide.

A spokeswoman for the AYSO said the organization had not been served with the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives first investigated Valenti in 2003, but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute after the relative who accused him of abuse recanted. The investigation that led to Valenti’s conviction began in 2012, when the mother of a 10-year-old boy reported that Valenti had abused her son.

That boy did not meet Valenti through soccer, but investigators soon found two others who had played soccer and were molested. After Valenti’s arrest in August 2012, the number of victims rose as detectives contacted players on his prior teams and his neighbors at various apartment buildings.

He allegedly used several aliases while coaching and officiating games for the AYSO for nearly 17 years.

“He fraudulently changed his name, date of birth and Social Security number,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Jon Hatami said last year. “He had many, many victims.”

Jurors found Valenti guilty after a 35-day trial in Lancaster at which all of his victims testified.

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