Report: Former NWSL, Viator soccer coach accused of misconduct decades ago
Former Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames has been accused of misconduct stretching back decades when he coached at Eclipse Select soccer club and St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, well before he joined the National Women's Soccer League team, according to a published report.
The accusations, which included verbal and emotional abuse and other inappropriate behavior, were detailed by The Washington Post in a story published Tuesday.
A Viator player, who was not named by the Post, also claimed that Dames groomed her for a sexual encounter once she turned 18.
Dames was one of five coaches in the NWSL who stepped down or were fired last season for misconduct.
Dames was investigated by police in Arlington Heights in 1998 after a former player said he inappropriately touched her when she was underage. The investigation was dropped because no formal complaint was filed.
Dames coached at Viator from 1997 to 2005.
A lawyer for the former coach denied the accusations leveled in the Post's story.
"Mr. Dames has a reputation as an excellent soccer coach over 25 years of coaching thousands of soccer players. With the exception of a few players disgruntled for one reason or another, the vast majority of players have thanked Mr. Dames for investing in them as players," attorney Susan Bogart said.
Eclipse Select President Mike Nesci, who replaced Dames as president of the club after Dames resigned from the Red Stars, told the Post he was not of aware of the allegations. Nesci said Dames voluntarily stopped coaching at Eclipse in October.
St. Viator told the Post it didn't have specific information about the allegations and that the school would conduct an investigation.
In the NWSL, former North Carolina coach Paul Riley was fired after two players, Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim, accused him of sexual harassment and coercion. Those accusations prompted both the NWSL and U.S. Soccer to open investigations and led to the resignation of NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird.
Dames abruptly resigned last November ahead of a report in the Post that said former players, including national team forward Christen Press, had gone to U.S. Soccer with complaints about Dames going back to 2014.
"The mission of U.S. Soccer's new leadership, which has been in place since 2020, is to create a safe space for all athletes who love this sport to learn, grow and compete," U.S. Soccer said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We share the concerns about allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct and have taken the important step of retaining former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States Sally Q. Yates to conduct an independent investigation.
"U.S. Soccer's goals throughout this process are transparency, accountability and change. As Ms. Yates and her team continue their important work, they have been given full autonomy, access and necessary resources to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead."
Sarah Spain, an ESPN reporter who has an ownership stake in the Red Stars, posted on social media: "It's the same story, over & over again. Across different sports, leagues & countries. The power to change a life & career wielded over girls & boys. Control over a sport they love. A system built to shame & silence. This is sickening, and so many let it keep happening."
Another former player, Megan Cnota, said Dames made comments of a sexual nature and degraded the players. She was among those who spoke to police at the time.
"We tried to make it come to light 25 years ago," Cnota said, "and nobody believed those teenagers."
In all, 14 former youth players told the Post that Dames was verbally and emotionally abusive toward them.