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Goshen College alums claim abuse by soccer coaches

7.16. 2018 Written By: Sheldon C. Good 8,324 Times read

Update, July 18:

Goshen College, prior to this article, issued an official response to Anneliese Baer and Rachel Stoltzfus through the board of directors. The original version of the article included a quotation stating an official response had not been issued. Mennonite Church USA did not have representatives at the May 5 meeting. The original version of the article stated representatives from MC USA were present.

Article:

Anneliese Baer and Rachel Stoltzfus, both Goshen (Indiana) College alums, have come forward with stories saying coaches from the college’s women’s soccer team abused them. The abuse, Baer and Stoltzfus say, occurred between 2011 and 2016 and spanned two, nonconsecutive coaching teams.

Baer and Stoltzfus shared their experiences May 5 on campus in front of Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus, the president’s cabinet, members of the college’s board of directors, a group of students and other select individuals.

In a July 4 entry for Into Account, Stephanie Krehbiel and Hilary Scarsella posted the statements made by Baer and Stoltzfus at the May gathering.

Later in this article, Goshen College responds to the situation involving the women’s soccer program.

In their statements, Baer and Stoltzfus said former women’s soccer head coach Fabio dos Santos and former assistant coach Abe Vinhas perpetrated abuse against them. Baer says former head coach Scott Gloden and assistant coach Anne Gloden, who are married, also perpetrated abuse.

Dos Santos was head coach in 2011-2013, and Vinhas was assistant coach in 2012-2013. After two interim coaches, Scott Gloden was head coach in 2015-2018, and Anne Gloden was assistant coach for those years. All four former coaches are no longer employed by the college.

As part of her May 5 statement, Baer said she had the following experiences while dos Santos and Vinhas were coaches: She was offered a $15,000 annual scholarship to play soccer at Goshen College but only received $8,500 each year; the first private meeting with the two coaches was an evening hot tub session; she heard one of the coaches, who was shirtless, make sexual remarks about her teammates; dos Santos and Vinhas locked Baer and her teammates in a steam room and physically barred them from leaving; the coaches verbally harassed her; a coach stalked her and her teammates at off-campus events during weekend nights; after filing complaints about their coaches, Baer and her teammates “paid for it in practice.”

“I watched as my black, brown, poor and international teammates were singled out and faced the harshest conditions and had the least support,” Baer said.

The effects of the abuse still affect her today, Baer said, and she has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Baer listed the ways over multiple years that she, her family and her teammates notified Goshen College of grievances. After the college allowed coach dos Santos to resign, Baer said, “we were expected to put all our trust back into the institution that hired our abusers and ignored our cries for help. I was told to ‘smile’ and to ‘move on’ and that the longevity of the program depended on my team’s ability to ‘enter into a new season with positivity.’”

Baer said she has struggled for six years with “how to respond to and interact with this community.”

“Collectively, my teammates and I have spent countless hours talking to peers, talking to administrators, talking to profs, filing grievances, seeking legal advice and meeting with each other all in an attempt to reconcile the immense amount of damage, pain and broken trust this community has forced upon us and to hold GC accountable,” Baer said.

Former soccer player Rachel Stoltzfus, as part of her May 5 statement, said she experienced, among other things, pool workouts during which dos Santos used a hose to pour cold water over the heads of several players as they did pushups; negative talk toward and about women; body and weight shaming; a preseason trip to Alabama that included three-a-day practices in the heat, strict diets, one-on-one meetings in the coach’s private hotel room and in a hot tub, and the coach physically restricting players from leaving a sauna/steam room during a pool workout; verbal abuse, including being called “bitches” and comments about players’ menstrual periods being in sync, and homophobic comments.

Six of Rachel Stoltzfus’ teammates met in September 2012 with former athletic director Tim Demant to report the incidents they experienced. Demant is no longer employed by the college.

“Unfortunately, after that meeting, the team experienced intensive intimidation and retaliation,” Stoltzfus said, adding that since then she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder.

Furthermore, Rachel Stoltzfus said, “I hope those who listen today take this as a call to action to put the appropriate systems in place and to learn from the experiences of your alum to ensure a situation like this never happens and coach like this never is hired again.”

Another women’s soccer player, Kelsey Schrock, filed a grievance on March 11, 2013, with Norm Bakhit, former senior director of human resources at Goshen College. Bakhit is no longer employed by the college.

Schrock wrote: “Just as in an abusive relationship, we were in denial that it was happening. We developed this denial and learned helplessness out of immense fear, pressure, intimidation and manipulation. We were fearful of losing our scholarships or losing the respect of other teammates. We were pressured to succeed and keep a positive representation of our soccer program and school. But most of all, we were intimidated and manipulated to keep silent.… I am concerned about the future of my fellow teammates and all female athletes at Goshen College if we continue to be silent.”

Starting with the 2015-16 season, Baer said in her May 5 statement, she was “expected to yield to Scott and Anne’s authority as coaches in order to make the transition smoother, even if this means I will be relentlessly screamed at for performing exactly how my coach the previous year taught me.” Additionally, she said she was “immersed in Scott and Anne’s power structure” and that they were “abusive, inconsistent and powerful, and you never knew when their blow up was coming for you.”

Stephanie Krehbiel, executive director and co-founder of Into Account, worked closely with several members of the women’s soccer team who filed a complaint in December 2017 against the Glodens.

The complaints, which are not public, say the Glodens engaged in “racially derisive remarks aimed at specific players, derogatory comments about the players’ bodies, persistent name-calling, lots of yelling at players in multiple contexts and blaming injured players for being injured and disregarding safety measures around injury and recovery,” Krehbiel said in a July 10 email. “Some players felt coerced into babysitting the Glodens’ children. The players I spoke with remarked consistently that they felt they were being pitted against one another.”

In response to the situation involving the women’s soccer program, Goshen College issued the following statement (a longer statement appears at the end of this article):

“In late January 2018, several alumnae brought to President Stoltzfus’s attention grievances surrounding the women’s soccer program from fall 2011 to spring 2013, concerns about how the institution responded to their experience, as well as concerns about the program in fall 2017. The president immediately convened a working group that reviewed institutional records, spoke directly with several former players and conducted interviews of key people involved at that time to further understand what happened and what actions were taken.

The conversations with Anneliese Baer, Rachel Stoltzfus and their teammates have helped current leadership to understand the ongoing impact of these experiences on our alumni and to commit to reviewing the current environment as well. The president and the Board of Directors have apologized to these alumnae. This should not have happened, and we are deeply sorry that it did. We respect and appreciate the courage of the women who brought to our attention the unacceptable environment that characterized their experience. Our goal is to support these and other alumnae, listen to them and learn from them.

We are committed to facing this directly and to addressing our larger systems and culture with an approach that is survivor-centered, fair for all members of our community and transparent to the degree possible. 

Goshen College does not tolerate harassment on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or race, and we are committed to preventing similar experiences in the future, including through a new policy on sexual assault and misconduct. The work on fulfilling the Resolution Agreement with the Department of Education, based on a different case, is well underway and will be completed by the end of 2018. We have created a new staff position of Special Assistant to the Provost on Title IX, and are working with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and its higher education partners to ensure that our prevention and response systems are continually strengthened.

Any additional statements or information from current or past students that would inform our work are highly valued and can be reported (anonymously, if you wish) through the sexual misconduct reporting form on our website, or by reaching out directly to Beth Martin Birky, special assistant to the provost on Title IX, (titleix@goshen.edu) at Goshen College.”

In response, Rachel Stoltzfus said in a July 14 email that Goshen College’s statement “flies in the face of my experience of Goshen and is part of a nightmare that never ends.”

Krehbiel, Stoltzfus’s advocate, said in a July 14 email: “President Stoltzfus publicly apologized to Athletic Department coaches and staff for Rachel and Anneliese’s victim impact statements in a mandatory May 22 meeting of the Athletic Department, and referred to some of their remarks as ‘unsubstantiated’ and ‘sweeping allegations.’ This happened in front of faculty, staff and students, and at least one current student who reported abuse has experienced direct retaliation from coaching staff since then. It’s frustrating to see a college president do something that as advocates we know is going to embolden abusive behavior against students, and it makes statements like the one Goshen released here very hard for our clients to take seriously.”

In fall of 2016, Erin Bergen, a former Goshen College student who was sexually assaulted while a student, filed a federal complaint against the college’s handling of her case. In a subsequent investigation, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education found failures in the college’s Title IX protections against sexual harassment.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Since December 2017, Goshen College has been in a Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights to ensure the college’s compliance with Title IX. The Resolution Agreement requires Goshen College to review and develop certain policies, procedures and trainings throughout 2018 and 2019.

 

Statement from Goshen College:

“In late January 2018, several alumnae brought to President Stoltzfus’s attention grievances surrounding the women’s soccer program from fall 2011 to spring 2013, concerns about how the institution responded to their experience, as well as concerns about the program in fall 2017. The president immediately convened a working group that reviewed institutional records, spoke directly with several former players and conducted interviews of key people involved at that time to further understand what happened and what actions were taken. The institutional process was reviewed in light of changes in federal and institutional policies related to Title IX.

During the fall 2012 season, Assistant Coach Vinhas was dismissed promptly when players expressed concerns about his interactions with the team. After these concerns arose, Coach dos Santos resigned in November of 2012. One grievance was filed by a player in March 2013 and the subsequent grievance process led to further changes in policy and personnel to support our female athletes. Based on fall 2017 evaluations of the women’s soccer coaches, the institution addressed player concerns with Scott and Anne Gloden with a human resources review process that led to their resignations in February 2018.

The conversations with Anneliese Baer, Rachel Stoltzfus and their teammates have helped current leadership to understand what happened and the ongoing impact of these experiences on our alumni and to commit to reviewing the current environment as well. We respect and appreciate the courage of the women who brought to our attention the unacceptable environment that characterized their experience. Our goal is to support these and other alumnae, listen to them and learn from them.

To work towards that, we held a meeting on May 5 to hear impact statements from five alumni. We agreed to listen to the statements prepared and not to respond at that time. The meeting included current student leaders, student-athletes, alumni, key administrators, athletic staff, faculty, board members and leaders of other Mennonite institutions with experience in survivor support. The meeting continued with a separate time for the leadership and current students of Goshen College to name what we heard, how we felt and to start to identify actions we can take as an institution.

On behalf of Goshen College, President Stoltzfus has apologized to these alumnae. At their June meeting, the Board of Directors reviewed the statements from the alumni and wrote in response to Ms. Baer and Ms. Stoltzfus an apology, a point-by-point response to specific requests they made to the college, and additional commitments to action from the Board and college. We are committed to facing this directly and to addressing our larger systems and culture with an approach that is survivor-centered, fair for all members of our community and transparent to the degree possible.

The actions being undertaken by Goshen College in response to the statements brought by Ms. Baer and Ms. Stoltzfus include the following:

  • Conduct an external peer review of the Athletic Department with a particular focus on issues of race, gender, inclusive environment, safety and equity, to be completed by the end of 2018.
  • Review institutional reporting systems for sexual misconduct and evaluate use of an external system.
  • Continue to expand education for all employees, incoming and continuing students on the prevention and reporting mechanisms for preventing and reporting sexual and racial misconduct.
  • Create a new institution-wide compliance program that will include a staff compliance officer, a compliance committee on campus and relationship between that committee and the Board’s compliance committee.
  • Strengthen reporting to the Board of Directors with regard to compliance in all forms, including prevention of and response to sexual and racial misconduct.
  • Provide opportunities for continuing dialogue with Ms. Baer and Ms. Stoltzfus about their individual concerns, including regarding Ms. Baer’s financial aid package.

Goshen College does not tolerate harassment on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or race, and we are committed to preventing similar experiences in the future, including through a new policy on sexual assault and misconduct. The work on fulfilling the Resolution Agreement with the Department of Education, based on a different case, is well underway and will be completed by the end of 2018. We have created a new staff position of Special Assistant to the Provost on Title IX, and are working with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and its higher education partners to ensure that our prevention and response systems are continually strengthened.

Any additional statements or information from current or past students that would inform our work are highly valued and can be reported (anonymously, if you wish) through the sexual misconduct reporting form on our website, or by reaching out directly to Beth Martin Birky, special assistant to the provost on Title IX, (titleix@goshen.edu) at Goshen College.”

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