Archive for February, 2013

Credentials No Guard Against Molestation

Written by PC News on . Posted in Coaches, Molestation, News

The image of the coach/abuser often centers around the loner who works his way into a small youth sports club and finds a way to isolate himself with children.  The club, grateful just to have the volunteer help doesn’t want to see a problem or ignores complaints until it is too late.  While there are certainly examples of that caricature, the recent guilty plea of Rick Curl, a US Olympic swimming coach at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, belies that view. (Full story here).  Curl ran one of the largest and most prominent youth swimming programs in the country.   In 1989, he also paid $150,000 to the family of a 13 year old swimmer for a non-disclosure agreement related to claims that he had sexual relations with the girl when he was in his 30s.

After learning of his presence at the latest Olympic trials, the girl, now in her 40s came forward to tell her story of abuse.  Curl pleaded guilty to the charges and he faces up to 15 years in prison and will be listed in the sexual offender’s registry.  He was able, however, to sell his swim club, which has since been renamed.  Few coaches in the country had the profile and record of success that Curl achieved.  Yet, despite all those credentials, he is an admitted child sexual abuser.  He has since been banned for life by USA Swimming.

When implementing child protection policies, it is important that the policies be equally applied.  Simply because a coach has a certain profile or background is no reason not to require him to follow club policies.  Moreover, applying policies equally will aid in the acceptance of club policy from all coaches.

Placek Consulting Launches Free Online Seminar for Directors

Written by PC News on . Posted in Board Members, Training, Volunteer Management

In anticipation of the July 2013 launch of our online risk management and child protection training seminars, Placek Consulting today released a free online training seminar for members of youth sports association Boards of Directors.  The seminar, entitled Legal Duties of Youth Sports Association Board Members is a 15 minute presentation covering the basic legal obligations a volunteer undertakes when they agree to serve on a non-profit board of directors.    The course includes numerous real world examples designed to apply the legal principles to decisions facing board members on a regular basis.  This course is offered free of charge as a service to non-profit clubs, and may be viewed on demand.  Free registration is required to access the seminar area.

The presenter of this seminar is Scott Placek, the President of Placek Consulting and a twenty year attorney practicing in the area of civil litigation.  Scott has served on the board of directors of numerous soccer clubs, and has served as president of two soccer associations which each had more than 1000 players.  In addition to his work on the administrative side, Scott has been a college soccer coach, a Director of Coaching for select and recreational clubs, and an ODP state team coach.

Click here to enter the seminar area.

Child Protection Policies Protect Volunteers Too

Written by PC News on . Posted in Coaches, Molestation, Volunteer Management

Many of the items we post on this site analyze situations where the allegations raise questions about whether child protection policies could have prevented the situation, or given the sports club a reason to terminate a volunteer’s services before the wrongful conduct occurred.  However, in the terrible stories that come out of situations like these, it is easy to lose sight of the fact the child protection policies also serve to protect the volunteer from false allegations.

In Oklahoma, a respected youth softball coach is on trial facing charges that he molested a ten year old child on his team during a sleepover. (Full story here).  The coach had a daughter on the team, and when the allegations were reported, he immediately informed the parents on the team he coached.  Between the time of the report and his arrest, he was apparently permitted to continue to coach, and no parents removed their players from the team.  After his arrest, he continued to watch his daughter play without protest from any other parents.

Leading up to trial, the victim’s story changed, leading to the most serious count against the coach being dropped.  The trial continues on the remaining counts against him.  We don’t know what happened.  Perhaps he will be found guilty as charged; perhaps the changing stories will lead to an acquittal.  However, we should ask how this coach got into a situation at a team sleepover where it is his word against the child.  Sound child protection policies also protect the volunteers.  A good two adult policy prevents false allegations.  A good extra-organizational contact policy prevents situations like this one from arising.

When implementing a comprehensive child protection program, many coaches may resist and feel that they are being subjected to suspicion or extra scrutiny.  It is important in introducing the plan to emphasize the great benefits such a program offers to the volunteers.  False allegations can be as damaging to a coach as true allegations are to the child.  Being accused of child molestation is a bell that can’t be unrung.  In deciding whether to implement child protection measures, consider the benefit to your volunteers, as well as your players.

Update: Coach Found Not Guilty – Underscoring the importance of policies that avoid the potential for false accusations, a jury acquitted the coach in the story above after only two hours of deliberation.  (Full story here).   The coach had vehemently denied the charges, said his attorney, Eric Jones.  “My client has always maintained his innocence,” he said. “The jury returned a verdict that reflected that. . . His denial has been constant,” Jones said. “He never wavered, though the story relayed by the girl changed four times.”

If we can assist you with a review of your current policies, or the creation of a comprehensive child protection plan, contact Scott Placek at 512-879-1655.