Six alleged victims claim high school athletics coach, Tiffany Strauss-Gordon, 32, for seven years targeted and sexually exploited ‘poor boys who didn’t have food or rides to school’ – School and coaches knew but no one acted, lawsuit claims
Six former varsity football players at Colton High School in Los Angeles allege their athletics trainer, Tiffany Strauss-Gordon, raped and sexually assaulted them multiple times between 2000 and 2007
Lawsuit filed against the school district and the trainer has accused the 32-year-old coach of having had sexual intercourse with and giving oral sex to the teen boys, ranging in age from 14 to 17
The School district is accused of willfully ignoring the long-running sexual abuse of minors by an authority figure
‘Despite rampant rumors surrounding Gordon’s misconduct, (the school district) knowingly, intentionally, willfully, deliberately, negligently, and/or recklessly allowed Gordon to continue abusing Colton High School’s varsity football players, including plaintiffs’ – lawsuit
Strauss-Gordon worked for her father, longtime Colton High football coach Harold Strauss, before later becoming the athletic director at Grand Terrace High School
One victim claims Strauss-Gordon preyed on vulnerable students who were poor and in need of help
She targeted specific players because they often required rides home from school or money for food, the former football player said
He also alleges that the abuse was so flagrant that trainer’s father, football coach Harry Strauss walked in on them while she was raping him in the school locker room on Halloween in 2007
The lawsuit filed by the players claims other members of the football team, coaches, players’ parents and school staff knew about Gordon’s misconduct, but no one acted
Previous reports to the school district were all ignored, the victim’s said
The reports only came to light because of Assembly Bill 218, which took effect January 1, that provides victims extended statute of limitations for civil claims, according to the plaintiff’s attorney
A former California high school football player accusing a female athletic trainer, Tiffany Gordon, of raping him in the early 2000s believes she is a wilful predator who preyed on vulnerable students who were poor and in need of help.
‘I think the fact that we were a bunch of poor kids, nobody had the thought to protect us outside the football field,’ a man only identified as John Doe 7042 told the Los Angeles Times, describing how he and man of her victims often needed rides home or money for food.
Doe 7042 is one of the six anonymous John Does who suing Colton High School trainer Tiffany Gordon, 32, who they say raped them while they played on the football team between 2000 and 2007.
Doe 7042 said the abuse was so flagrant that on one occasion the then head football couch and athletic director Harold Strauss, even walked in on them while she was raping him in the school locker room on Halloween in 2007. Ironically Strauss was not just Gordon’s boss, he was her father. Doe 7042 said Strauss asked his daughter why they were in the locker room with the lights off, and she responded they were ‘just closing up and leaving.’
She was the daughter of late football coach Harold Strauss, who had a legendary career leading the football program and is credited with helping multiple high school athletes move on to professional football. The daughter was a trainer while her father coached the team.
With that laissez passer, it alleged that coaches joked about the trainer’s actions and dubbed them “Tiffany’s special treatment.”
Strauss-Gordon’s alleged inappropriate behavior connected to the legal action took place from 2001 to 2007 with players whose ages ranged from 14 to 17. The lawsuit accused her of having had sexual intercourse with and giving oral sex to the teen boys.
The lawsuit claims other members of the football team, players’ parents and school staff were aware of Gordon’s misconduct while the school district failed to report or investigate claims brought to them.
Gordon worked as the athletic trainer under her father before she became the athletic director at Grand Terrace High School.
The players recount multiple incidents of rape and abuse between 2000 and 2007.
“The sheer volume of oral copulation and sexual intercourse occurring between Gordon and the minor student-athletes was not insignificant, and Defendants knew or should have known of the blatant sexual misconduct occurring,” the lawsuit states.
Strauss-Gordon additionally sexually pleasured coaches, the suit alleges. One photo from 2005, which spread among players, even showed her giving oral sex to a coach, the East Bay Times reported, citing the lawsuit.
School sports director Harold Strauss was a larger-than-life figure and the most powerful person in the Colton school district, one ex-player, who is part of the lawsuit, told the East Bay Times. Strauss died in 2019 after 30 years of coaching at several different
John Doe 7045 claims he told one coach about him and another student being abused and their plans to report it to the district. The coach’s wife then suggested this would not be successful.
The lawsuit says the school district first became aware of allegations against Gordon between 2002 and 2006.
‘Despite rampant rumors surrounding Gordon’s misconduct, (the school district) knowingly, intentionally, willfully, deliberately, negligently, and/or recklessly allowed Gordon to continue abusing Colton High School’s varsity football players, including plaintiffs,’ the lawsuit reads.
‘In doing so, defendants fostered a pervasive and hostile environment that utterly disregarded the rights and safety of minor athletes who were entrusted to (the district).’
The Colton Joint Unified School District (CJUSD) said in a statement that ‘although the current administrative team members were not in leadership roles with the district 20 years ago, the district leadership team is extremely concerned about the allegations being made.’
‘Our commitment is always to the safety and well-being of our students, families and staff, and we will work with local law enforcement to protect our community and lend our support to any victims in this case.’
The football players were able to report these allegations because of Assembly Bill 218, which took effect January 1 to provide alleged victims an extended statute of limitations for civil claims.
‘This important law gives survivors of sexual abuse an opportunity to be heard and a chance to heal,’ said Brian Williams, the attorney representing the former athletes.
John Doe 7043 transferred to the school during his senior year in 2003. While on the football team, he says Gordon made advances on him while inviting him to a drive-in theater date in which she sexually abused him in the back seat of the car.
John Doe 7047 joined the team as a sophomore in 2000 and alleges Gordon first raped him when he was 16 and that she continued to do so throughout his high school career.
After joining the varsity football team in 2001, John Doe 7042 said he was sexually assaulted by Gordon while he was treated for injuries suffered while he played football.
His abuse continued to escalate throughout his time at the school as he was then allegedly raped by Gordon in the school’s locker room, in bathrooms, in the school’s weight room and in a trailer.
While hearing rumors about Gordon’s sexual abuse as a freshman, John Doe 7044 says in his senior year he confronted the athletic trainer, in a text about the rumors.
In response Gordon allegedly told him to send her pictures of his penis and sent him nude photographs of herself. She allegedly sexually assaulted him the next day in the locker room and the abuse continued throughout his senior year until he cut off contract with her.
‘They really could’ve stopped it at any time,’ he told the LA Times.
‘Everybody knew from when I stepped foot on Colton High that it was a rumor, so at the very least, they could’ve seen what this rumor was about. At no point did they ever step in to stop it.’
Through the years of sexual abuse, the players said Gordon’s actions were perceived as ‘normal, and even lauded’ because of how the coaches responded to the rumors.
The victims feel the school’s coaches and other administrators failed to protect them and that a system should be put in place to help students report alleged misconduct.
“I felt like we couldn’t say anything. That our words wouldn’t have mattered,” John Doe 7046 said in an interview. “When I got older, I didn’t want my kid or anyone else’s kid to feel like how we felt — like we didn’t have a voice.”
The plaintiffs believe the alleged abuse was perceived as “normal, and even lauded” because of the coaches’ minimization of the assaults, adding that it “significantly affected and shaped the students’ perceptions of intimacy, relationships and responsibilities at a young and impressionable age.”
Strauss-Gordon who is now employed at another school has been placed on administrative leave, but her attorney claims that no charges have been filed against his client.
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