Golf Coach’s Sexual Assault Leads To Criminal Conviction And Civil Lawsuit

By: Rob Harris

A depressing golf-related story coming from Nebraska serves as a reminder of  our judicial system–its structure and, based on perspective, its strengths and/or limitations.

Michael Klein, who is something of a Nebraska golf coaching legend, has been sentenced to decades in jail, following a no contest plea to charges of sexually assaulting two of his high school players. Our criminal justice system has accomplished what it was designed to do.

Under our system, compensation for assault victims lies outside the criminal justice system. Here, promptly following Klein’s conviction, one of his victims filed a civil lawsuit. The defendants include Klein, the school district and Scotts Bluff Country Club, where Klein served as a golf pro and held golf team practices.

Given the no contest plea, it’s a safe bet that Mr. Klein will be found liable, with recovery limited to whatever resources he might have and whatever plaintiff (or a pressuring judge) might convince a recalcitrant homeowner’s insurer to throw in to the pot, while arguing the policy does not cover intentional torts.

Moving away from the bad actor, liability against the school district and the golf club conceptually is less certain, but indeed there is exposure, with the operative facts likely to lead to intensive settlement discussions and a strong possibility of settlement without the need for trial.



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