Hawaii player on pro soccer sex abuse scandal: ‘The institution failed me’

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 11:55 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 12:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii woman who made national headlines for coming out against her former pro soccer coach is raising awareness of sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

Kamehameha Schools graduate Mana Shim says she was sexually harassed by Paul Riley while playing for the Portland Thorns.

“To be honest, I knew from the beginning,” Shim said, in an interview on Hawaii News Now Sunrise on Wednesday. “He was very manipulative and tactical about it. But just the way I felt when I was around him and the way he would respond to me if I didn’t give him the response he wanted. You know, he took it out on me in training, on the road when we were traveling, and I knew from the beginning it was wrong.”

In 2015, Shim filed a complaint with the Portland Thorns regarding Riley’s behavior.

“The reason why I came forward was because another player came to me and said, ‘I had this experience with the same coach and there are other players.’ So at that point I had to do something,” Shim said. “At first it was just my story, and I knew it was powerful, but I did what I could filing the complaint.”

Despite the complaint, Shim said it was frustrating knowing that Riley had been released and allowed to move on to other clubs within the league — and was very successful.

“It was really emotional for me because I was still playing in the league, so I had to play against this coach, multiple times a year, and I could see how my owner and general manager were buddy-buddy with him,” Shim said.

“I just felt like the institution as a whole failed me. I did what I needed to do which was report it to the team and they weren’t protecting players.”

Other players have since come out and made similar statements.

A few weeks ago, a sports website called The Athletic published a detailed investigative report on the sexual misconduct allegations against Riley. Following the report, Riley was fired as North Carolina Courage head coach but denied all allegations.

The National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Lisa Baird and general counsel Lisa Levine were both ousted from their positions.

Shim said she hopes there will be more transparency around these investigations, as well as education.

“These coaches, these institutions, these clubs, they need to know that this is something that happens, that it’s very prevalent and they need to be educated on how to handle them,” she said.

“We also need more reporting, more anonymous reporting, ways and avenues for players to go about reporting these claims and finding justice because I didn’t have that.”

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