Former Butler Trainer Is Under Fire for Doing Way Too Much During Massages | Women’s Soccer Player Files Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against School

We’ve seen this movie before with Deshaun Watson, but now the trainer is the accused and not the victim. Two current and one former women’s soccer players filed lawsuits against Butler accusing the ex-trainer of sexual assault. The latest saga with Northwestern football team seems to have opened a Pandora’s box to unleash all the wrongdoings that are happening on college campuses.

Butler being sued by two current and one former women’s soccer over alleged assault. (Photo:@butleru/ Twitter screenshot)


According to the lawsuits, the assaults took place during massage sessions that lasted multiple hours. The accused is Michael Howell, who worked at Butler from 2012 to 2022. He worked with women’s soccer, baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s tennis and the cheerleading teams during his tenure.

One complaint from one of the female victims, who want to remain anonymous, said “Howell began massaging her neck, but he quickly moved down to Ms. Doe’s hips and groin, massaged her under her shorts, touched her pubic hair, and rubbed her so forcefully that her groin was bruised and painful the next day.

“Multiple versions of this and other gross misconduct were perpetrated upon Ms. Doe, causing her substantial emotional, physical, and other injuries and damages. Unfortunately, Howell perpetrated similar misconduct on other athletes.’’

The victims also alleged that some of these massages took place at away games in the trainer’s private hotel room, according to the lawsuits. They are suing negligence, gross negligence, battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuits name the university, Ralph Reiff, and Howell. Reiff serves as Butler’s senior associate athletic director for student-athlete health, performance and well-being.

Butler’s Response

The university said it notified law enforcement as soon as they were made aware of the allegations. They also removed him from campus and suspended him from his job duties in September 2021. The university then terminated Howell in the summer of 2022 following an investigation and hearing in which they determined the trainer was found responsible for violating university policies.

The investigation took place after the anonymous victim and five other women informed the school of Howell’s misconduct, which included him secretly videotaping and photographing athletes.

“The health, safety, and well-being of our campus community is always our top priority,” Butler said in a statement provided to USA Today Sports. “Butler looks forward to the opportunity to show the high integrity and responsiveness of the coaches and senior personnel.  Because the complaints do not name the plaintiffs and they have not waived federal student privacy protections, Butler is limited from further comment outside of the legal process.”

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