A former Roseville swimmer has filed a lawsuit against the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) over sexual abuse he allegedly experienced in the 1970s as a 12-year-old boy at the hands of his assistant coach.
The coach, the lawsuit said, previously had been an assistant scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts in St. Paul until he was removed over allegations that he abused another boy.
Jon Landstrom and his attorney, Patrick Noaker, announced the suit at a news conference on Wednesday. The lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court names the AAU, the assistant coach, David J. Beardsley, and Landstrom’s former head coach, David Luedtke, as defendants. In the suit, Landstrom is seeking judgment in excess of $50,000.
At the news conference, Landstrom, 55, recounted the abuse he said he suffered while participating in the Roseville Stingrays Swimming Club at age 12. At the time, Landstrom aspired to be an Olympic swimmer. After he joined the swim club, Beardsley began paying special attention to him, he said.
“He called me Tiger,” Landstrom said. “The way he treated me was different from other people … other swimmers. It made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t know what to do about it.”
In 1973, Landstrom said, Beardsley began molesting him. Landstrom’s parents suspected something was amiss and asked their son about Beardsley. But Landstrom said the guilt and shame silenced him. The abuse allegedly continued for years.
“I couldn’t respond to them,” he said. “I lied to them because I thought it was my fault.”
Beardsley, who lives in an assisted-living facility in St. Paul, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The AAU and Luedtke, the lawsuit argues, either knew or should have known about the threat posed by Beardsley.
When Landstrom originally decided to bring forward his story four years ago, he said, he was told that the statute of limitations had expired. Then he heard about victims throughout the state filing claims under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.
When preparing the claim, Noaker came across information that before the alleged abuse of Landstrom, Beardsley was removed in 1972 as an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 66 in St. Paul. A parent reported that Beardsley had molested his son at a Scout camp that year. The information about Beardsley was kept secret by the Boy Scouts, and Beardsley went on to become a Roseville assistant swim coach.
Landstrom said he just wants to heal and help others come forward.
“As I share it more, I feel relief,” he said. “I’m taking back the power that was taken from me as a 12-year-old.”
The window for victims to come forward on the Minnesota Child Victims Act closes on May 25.