Shareece Wright hopes speaking out changes narratives about boys who are sexually abused

Former NFL player Shareece Wright revealed on Friday that he is one of the 12 previously anonymous men who accused a woman who worked at their high school of sexually assaulting them when they were minors. He hopes that by speaking out, he can change people's perspectives about boys who are sexually abused by adult women.

Wright says that too often, teenage boys who are sexually abused by women are treated as if their pain isn't real.

“I was worried about what people would say, or how people would try to portray it,’’ Wright told USA Today. “The narrative that we were boys and it’s not that big of a deal or is not that serious bothers me, like, the most.’’

Wright added that he is “trying to change the narrative that when you’re a boy and you’re being molested by a female it’s not serious or it doesn’t affect your life or it’s not that bad.’’

The 36-year-old Wright and 11 other men who attended Colton High School in Colton, California, say that when they were minors, a school employee named Tiffany Strauss-Gordon sexually abused them. Strauss-Gordon was the daughter of Colton High School's football coach, Harold Strauss, who died in 2019.

Strauss-Gordon has not been criminally charged and denies the allegations.

Jemma Dunn, one of the attorneys working on the lawsuit, agrees with Wright that there is a double standard at play.

"If the roles were reversed the story would be very different. Nobody would be questioning whether this was an assault. There would be people in jail," Dunn told local TV affiliate ABC-30. "I mean there would be an uproar."

Wright says he talked to adults about what was happening to him while he was still in high school, and they were dismissive.

“Their first response was, like, ‘You guys are boys. You knew what you were doing. She’s going to lose her job and so many people’s jobs are going to be [on] the line,’" Wright said. “This is the feedback I was getting from people that I thought cared about me.’’

Wright says the experience of being taken advantage of by an adult woman when he was still a child has had lingering effects on his ability to maintain relationships.

“I just got off the phone with my therapist not even an hour ago talking about it,’’ Wright said on Friday. “It takes time to understand what sexual abuse does to people when it happens to them.’’

After high school Wright played at USC and was a 2011 third-round pick of the Chargers. He also played for the 49ers, Ravens, Bills, Raiders and Texans in an eight-year NFL career.