Former U.S. national team member Doe Yamashiro files lawsuit against O.C. gymnastics coach

Doe Yamashiro has filed a lawsuit against former U.S. Women's Olympic Gymnastics coach Don Peters and SCATS Gymnastics.
Doe Yamashiro has filed a lawsuit against former U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics coach Don Peters and SCATS Gymnastics in Huntington Beach.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

A former member of the U.S. Women’s National Gymnastics Team filed a lawsuit against former U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics coach Don Peters in Orange County Superior Court this week, accusing him of sexually abusing her while she was training as a minor.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday does not name defendants due to a law requiring a judge’s approval prior to the disclosure of identities, but the plaintiff’s attorney, John Manly, confirmed those involved as Peters and SCATS Gymnastics in Huntington Beach.

In the complaint, plaintiff Doe Yamashiro accuses Peters of repeatedly sexually abusing her while she was training at SCATS Gymnastics and while on national and international trips for competitions. The lawsuit claims Yamashiro was sexually harassed and abused at SCATS and in training facilities, gyms, hotels and other places on at least 10 separate occasions, from 1986 to approximately 1988.


The Huntington Beach gymnastics center is also accused of negligence in its employment of Peters, alleging that the facility had the authority and ability to remove Peters from his position but instead allowed the abuse to occur and continue unabated.

A request for comment on the lawsuit Friday afternoon was not immediately answered by SCATS Gymnastics. The suit also names other defendants as unnamed Does 3 through 50.

Yamashiro is seeking a jury trial and is suing for non-economic and economic damages. She is also seeking any appropriate statutory damages, costs of the lawsuit, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.

“This case is being brought because of [Yamashiro] being raped as a child and it’s an attempt to do two things: one, it’s to hold [Peters] and his gym accountable. Secondly, it’s for her to get her power and her life back and, more importantly, it’s to heal,” said Manly in an interview Friday. “It’s basically to send a message to anyone that would do this, that would hurt a child: it’s going to cost you your business, your life and you could go to jail for it.”

Manly also represented another gymnast who filed a lawsuit against Peters and SCATS Gymnastics in 2017, alleging that Peters sexually abused her between the ages of 12 and 18.

He said he felt honored to represent Yamashiro, adding that what she ultimately sought was accountability for Peters and SCATS.

Peters was permanently banned by USA Gymnastics after three gymnasts came forward in November 2011, alleging sexual abuse while they were training with him in the 1980s. He was the head coach for the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team.

He was also the director of SCATS for nearly 30 years.

Yamashiro’s lawsuit is filed under Assembly Bill 218, which was signed into law in October 2019. It extended the statute of limitations for reporting childhood sexual assault. Previously, victims had to file a suit by the time they reached the age of 26. Under the new law, that age limit was extended to 40 years, or within five years after the individual has discovered or reasonably should have discovered psychological damages.

The legislation was authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who told the Los Angeles Times when it was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom that “the idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous. More and more, we’re hearing about people who were victims years ago but were not ready to come forward to tell their story until now.”

The Yamashiro lawsuit is assigned to Judge James Di Cesare.

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