A former Scottsbluff High School student has sued the Scotts Bluff Country Club and former Scottsbluff High School girl’s golf coach Michael Klein.

The suit, filed Feb. 3, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, is the second lawsuit filed that stems from Klein’s conviction in November 2017 in Scotts Bluff County Court. Klein had been convicted, and was sentenced to 23 to 32 years in prison, on four counts of first-degree sexual assault, a Class II felony. He had been convicted of sexually assaulting two students, who were ages 15 years old and 16 years old at the time that Klein had sexually assaulted the two girls.

In the suit, filed by a former student called Jane Doe, she alleges that Scotts Bluff Country Club was negligent in allowing Klein to work and coach at the club, despite a history of inappropriate relationships with students.

Jane Doe says she had been a member of the Scottsbluff High School girls’ golf team from 2014 to 2018 and had worked at the Scotts Bluff County Club during the summers of 2016 and 2017. During that time, Scottsbluff High School contracted with the country club for golf teams to practice at the facility.

The former student-athlete alleges country club officials were aware of complaints involving Klein with at least one other student during the time he coached the Scottsbluff High School golf team from 2003 to 2016 and when he worked as an assistant golf pro at the club.

Jane Doe alleges Klein sexually harassed her from the summer of 2014 to July 2016 and sexually assaulted her during a period of time between October/November 2015 until July 2016. She described him as “emotionally abusive, controlling and harassing” and that he continually called and texted her.

During that time, she alleges, Klein exploited his control and authority as a coach and sexually and emotionally abused her.

“He manipulated and groomed Jane Doe into believing that she needed his guidance to golf in college and could not trust either her own decisions or her parents.” The girl alleged he controlled her by continually calling and texting her, controlling her applications to colleges, controlling her golf practices and even her employment.

In the suit, the woman alleges that Klein’s supervisor was negligent and could foresee the abuse based on Klein’s history at the facility.

The suit states that another student athlete had reported Klein had sexually and emotionally abused her between 2007-2011 and during that time, she had also worked under the supervision of Klein at the country club. The suit alleges that club management had knowledge complaints had been made involving Klein and his relationship with that girl. Complaints had been made to club management regarding Klein’s conduct as early as 2008 and supervisors knew about a complaint made to police in 2010, Jane Doe alleges. However, management did not act to prevent Klein from abusing the student-athlete or other potential victims, like Jane Doe.

Though the supervisor had received complaints from patrons about Klein engaging in inappropriate conduct with the student-athlete — including a complaint called “a rampage” from a patron and action against Klein that included him being written up for picking up the student for work and taking her home — the country club did not act to prevent Klein from abusing the student-athlete, she says in the suit. The woman alleges Klein had been terminated from the club and the woman alleges that the cause had been because he was neglecting his job duties due to his involvement with the previous student-athlete. Ultimately, he was terminated because of his relationship with the previous student, Jane Doe alleges. Jane Doe alleges that the general manager made statements that the relationship with Klein and the supervisor “was very political” because of his status at the club, as a PGA tour player and a man who “had celebrity status in the Scottsbluff community.”

Despite Klein’s termination, club leadership allowed Klein to continue having practices at the country club and his involvement led to her being harassed during her employment at the country club. She alleges Klein would “control her working environment to further his grooming, abuse and harassment.” Jane Doe also alleges country club management further erred and facilitated Klein’s abuse by not warning or notifying her parents of the danger that Klein posed and “knew or should have known of the abuse, harassment and danger that he posed to minor girls.” Country club staff had a duty to protect Jane Doe and others from harm and to safeguard her from the risk that Klein posed,

The woman describes having suffered deficiencies in her personal and social development, loss of reputation and mental and emotional effects, including depression, anxiety and other conditions due to the abuse.

Claims against Klein allege assault and battery, with Jane Doe accusing Klein of having committed nonconsensual, physical sexual assault and knowledge that she was a minor. She alleges he caused her physical pain and extensive and permanent mental and emotional suffering, as well as emotional distress. She has asked for a jury trial in the case and ask for damages, including medical and related expenses.

Last year, the student that Klein had been convicted of assaulting during the time period cited as 2007 to 2010, settled a lawsuit involving similar allegations. The woman had sued Scotts Bluff Country Club, Klein and Scottsbluff Public Schools. She settled her suit with Scotts Bluff Public Schools in July 2019, and the conditions of that settlement involved her dismissing claims against Klein and Scotts Bluff Country Club.

The Scottsbluff Public Schools district is not named in the latest lawsuit.

Summons for Klein and the Scotts Bluff Country Club were issued last week. Neither had yet entered a response in the lawsuit, as of Monday.

mloeks@starherald.com

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