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Advocate for Accountability: Demand IHSA remove official with multiple sexual harassment allegations

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IHSA has a duty to provide a safe and inclusive environment for parents, players, and staff to enjoy the sport they love. Unfortunately, as discovered in a shocking article reported by the Orange County Register on December 30th, 2020, one of IHSA’s Coordinator of Officials has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple young female referees. For one of the young women, the harassment began when she was only 18 years-old and lasted for at least 3 years.

Perry Korbakis was an assigning referee for USAWP at the time the allegations were made. The allegations are supported by telephone call transcripts, written complaints and USA Water Polo memos and letters, and interviews. Korbakis used his assigning power as a tool to harass the young women by limiting their tournament assignments if they refused to tolerate his verbal abuse, racist remarks, or his inappropriate invitations to join him in his hotel room. Korbakis is currently a Coordinator of Officials for the IHSA.

The allegations against Korbakis are as disturbing as they are detailed. They include instances where Korbakis used degrading language to verbally abuse the young refs, commented on their clothing in a sexual manner, made suggestive remarks, and used expletives in unprovoked voicemails and emails to the young women. Other instances include a time Korbakis pounded on the hotel room door of one young female referee, demanding that she join him in his room, and a time where Korbakis physically prevented the woman from leaving his side at a restaurant.

After the allegations were made to USAWP, no actions were taken to hold Korbakis accountable for the harassment. He was allowed to resign as Midwest ODP head referee with no public mention of the allegations. He continued his prominent role in the Water Polo community, including a position as scheduling referee for multiple levels of play, including club, high school, and college level games. The Ethics Committee Chair at USAWP was so perturbed by the lenient response in 2009 that she resigned in protest, stating, “The lack of making a real statement by suspending an official who for years has been grossly sexually harassing young female officials in our organization challenges my own values and has pushed me to step aside.”

The victims of his harassment were fellow Illinois water polo referees who were forced to continue reporting to Korbakis at the IHSA. After making the allegations, Korbakis punished them by severely limiting their game assignments. Ultimately, at least one of the women allegedly left the IHSA in order to escape Korbakis’s advances.

An IHSA spokesman told the Orange County Register that the organization was at this time unable to confirm USA Water Polo’s statement that it alerted the IHSA in 2009 about the allegations against Korbakis, because the two officials that handled water polo then have since retired.

The IHSA enabled Korbakis to continue victimizing the young women referees who made allegations against him. As an organization dedicated to the athletic development of high-school aged women and girls, the IHSA must take immediate action to prevent Korbakis from inflicting further emotional harm. In a sport already plagued with sexism, it is essential that the IHSA does better to protect its women players, staff, coaches, and alumni. Perry Korbakis is a titan in the Illinois Water Polo community, and we cannot afford to sweep these allegations under the rug once again.

Perry Korbakis should not have the power to punish victims of his own harassment, nor should he have access to young women within the sport, especially in light of the age of his victims when the harassment began. Please sign this petition if you wish to demand the IHSA remove him as Coordinator of Officials and prevent him from working in their organization in any capacity in the future.

Share this petition with your current/past teammates, with parents, and with coaches. Help protect the women and girls in the USAWP/IHSA community from future harassment at the hands of Perry Korbakis. Demand the IHSA and CWPA take action after 12 years of complacency. Sign and share today.

Edit 1/26/2021: If you have had a personal experience of harassment from Perry Korbakis, please consider reporting the incident(s) and lodging a formal grievance through USAWP or your school, club, or organization.

Links:

USAWP Rules and Ethics: https://usawaterpolo.org/sports/2018/12/19/rules-ethics.aspx

USAWP Guide to Mandatory Reporting: https://usawaterpolo.org/documents/2020/11/9/Mandatory_Reporting_Guide_Quick_Look_1_.pdf

U.S. Center of SafeSport Report a Concern: https://uscenterforsafesport.org/report-a-concern/ or call (720)-531-0340

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