Reporting Steve Miller
CHICAGO (CBS) – A 22-year-old man from Naperville has filed a lawsuit against Lifetime Fitness Clubs, alleging he was sexually abused by a trainer, starting when he was 16.
The trainer, 60-year-old Robert Theodore, already has been indicted on five felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He was arrested last fall, accused of having repeated sexual contact with the young man while working at the Lifetime Fitness in Warrenville.
This lawsuit – filed by a “John Doe” in Naperville – alleges the club hired Theodore without doing a proper background check.
John Doe’s lawyer, Brian Perkins, said he believes that check would have turned up Theodore’s record as a pedophile in Arizona in the 1980s.
Besides that, Perkins said, the club could have done more to prevent the abuse.
“They should’ve prevented Robert Theodore from being in a hot tub alone with a minor child; from being in a sauna alone with a minor child; from going to the locker room and changing; stretching in isolated areas of the club,” he said.
Perkins said Theodore’s method of “grooming” his young victims was unprecedented.
“He almost turned himself into a family member. The reason he did that was so he could have opportunities with these kids; so he could have them alone,” he said.
According to DuPage County prosecutors, Theodore had been training the boy for track and field at the time of the abuse. He allegedly bought the victim gifts – including a bicycle and an iPod touch. He’s also accused of abusing the boy at his own home, the boy’s home, and the fitness club.
He was placed on GPS monitoring after he posted bail.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages.
Perkins said he believes there are other victims.
A spokesman for Lifetime Fitness said the company does not comment on pending litigation, and has not seen the lawsuit. He said, when company officials heard last fall of the allegations against the trainer, they found them “startling.”