Once again, a story of a coach who has bounced from place to place ends in arrests, molestation charges and huge potential liability for the club that hired him. (Full story here.) A Broward County, Florida gymnastics coach was arrested and facing charges relating to the molestation of an underage student he coached in gymnastics. In the course of the investigation, his computer was seized and last week federal charges were filed against him for attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, possession of child pornography and the attempted receipt of child pornography. It may not be surprising to find the two crimes occurring together, but a different revelation in this article should be shocking and worrisome to every group that uses volunteers or paid coaches to work with youth.
As it turns out, this coach was accused of molesting other gymnasts at gyms he worked for in both Missouri and Illinois. In Illinois, he even plead guilty to a charge of misdemeanor battery. However, because of the passage of time and the misdemeanor nature of the offense, many criminal background screens would not have flagged the coach as a risk. This case again highlights the problems with a lack of information sharing between youth sports organizations. A coach may move from association to association, with bad outcomes at each stop, but unless there is a recent, serious criminal conviction, the background checking process will not prevent the coach from working or volunteering and putting more kids at risk.
At Placek Consulting, we are well aware of the problems of information sharing and are working hard to address the issue. Our volunteer screening training is one way we help clubs overcome this hurdle. Let us assist you in designing a volunteer screening process, and training your association to implement it. Volunteers come and go, and unless you put the effort into proper screening, you could be on the wrong end of a story like this one!