The arrest of yet another coach/official on charges of child molestation highlight the ongoing need for information sharing between local sports associations. Richard Perry, a Rhode Island baseball coach and umpire was arrested after “decades” of involvement in youth baseball. (Full story here). The story behind Perry’s arrest should trouble every state association. Mr. Perry had a long record of service as a baseball coach and umpire. He even umpired Little League World Series games at one point. In 2004 a criminal complaint was investigated, but the allegations from the 1990s were deemed to be outside the statute of limitations.
Although Mr. Perry was informally “pushed out” of the baseball league he was working with, he continued to get umpiring assignments from other youth baseball groups. Amongst his former association, the rumors and suspicion of his behavior were well known. However, this local knowledge was never communicated outside the organization. In youth soccer, we have much the same problem, and there seems to be no concerted effort to address this.
While individuals that fail criminal background checks or are suspended by D&P committees may be denied registration, there is little in the way of safeguards to prevent a coach who is denied participation by a local club from moving on to a different organization in the same state or even the same city. While sharing this information in the past may have been an unreasonably difficult or expensive task, the current state of technology is such that information sharing is feasible if a state association has the commitment to making sure its local members know when other local clubs have rejected or terminated a volunteer.
At Placek Consulting, we have developed uniform volunteer screening procedures that can be used to implement an information sharing database. Design and implementation of the database is not a prohibitive task. The challenge is the commitment at the state or national level to making information sharing a priority. The burden on the local level is miniscule. In reality, few clubs terminate or reject more than a handful of volunteers a year. Many clubs have never terminated or rejected a volunteer. Implementing a statewide system of reporting those rare instances when volunteers are rejected or terminated would put only the smallest burden on the local club.
One possible reason that no information sharing system has been put in place yet may be a concern that information sharing could lead to accusations of defamation by a rejected volunteer. However, this is again where Placek Consulting shines. Our reporting forms are designed and reviewed by attorneys to make certain that the information reporting process does not expose the clubs and associations to those types of allegations. If your state (or area) association is ready to commit to information sharing, let us guide you through the implementation of a properly designed and effective information sharing system.