The U.S. Tennis Association has enlisted two lawyers at a Washington-based firm to look into its safeguarding policies and procedures to protect players from sexual misconduct and other abuse.
Lew Sherr, the CEO and executive director of the organization that runs the U.S. Open and oversees the sport in the United States, wrote about the review in an email sent Thursday to the USTA Board of Directors, various staff and volunteers and obtained by The Associated Press.
As part of efforts “to prevent harm to athletes and respond to reports of inappropriate conduct … the USTA has retained David O’Neil and Mary Beth Hogan of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to review our policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and responding to reports of abuse, including sexual misconduct,” Sherr wrote.
The subject line of the email is “Reviewing Policies to Ensure Safety.”
The announcement of the review comes nearly two years after a tennis player sued the USTA in federal court in Florida alleging that the governing body failed to protect her from a coach who she says sexually abused her at one of its training centers when she was 19.
Kylie McKenzie accused coach Anibal Aranda of touching her inappropriately. The AP generally doesn’t name alleged sexual assault victims, but McKenzie agreed to let her identity be known in news coverage about her lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in March 2022, alleges that Aranda, who was employed by the USTA for about seven years and later fired, used his position as a USTA coach to get access to vulnerable female athletes and commit sexual battery against them.
“To be clear, this is a review of USTA policies, not an investigation of any specific allegations of sexual misconduct,” Sherr wrote.
Sherr said the review will focus on how the USTA keeps athletes safe from abuse and how it responds to reports of misconduct. His email said the Debevoise lawyers will be given “full access to employees involved in any way with these aspects of our organization.”