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Four men file lawsuit against Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office over handling of sexual assault investigation

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Four men who said they were sexually assaulted by their former youth soccer coach have filed a lawsuit against the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office over its handling of four separate complaints made in the 1980s and 1990s.

The four men, all listed as John Doe, claim their former soccer coach, Terence Stevens, gained access and trust of his victims through coaching and refereeing in Lompoc and San Diego County, according to court documents obtained by News Channel 3-12.

The complaint says the Sheriff's Office received no less than four complaints about Stevens between 1982 and 1991, and claims the Sheriff's Office violated the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act by failing to interview some of the victims.

Despite both Stevens and the victim admitting that Stevens inappropriately touched the then-14-year-old multiple times, the complaint alleges that "nothing further was done to investigate, prosecute, nor cross-report the complaint, the investigation or the findings of the investigation."

The complaint goes on to say that the Sheriff's Department witnessed Stevens standing naked and masturbating over one of the plaintiffs – who was also 14 at the time – in the Red Rock recreation area. It states that the law enforcement official again did not interview the victim or any of the other youth soccer players that were suspected of having been sexually molested.

"Instead, the law enforcement official with the County of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department actively sought to discourage the complaining witness from speaking with others about any possible investigations of Terence Stevens for child molestation," the complaint said.

The complaint was also filed against the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) that Stevens was reported to have coached in Lompoc. It alleges that despite the suspicions, no actions were taken to protect children that Stevens coached at AYSO.

The plaintiffs request a jury trial with the Sheriff's Office.

When asked about the complaint, the Sheriff's Office said it did not comment on any pending litigation. AYSO did not respond to News Channel's request for comment.

Stevens was criminally prosecuted and convicted in 2013 after he was caught on video molesting a child. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence.

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Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue is the Assignment Editor and web journalist at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Jade, click here

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