In Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the 3500 player Lee’s Summit Soccer Association has been shaken by the arrest of one of their coaches on charges that he videotaped players on teams he coached in various states of undress. (Full story here). He was also accused of touching sleeping players and videotaping himself while doing so. The acts were discovered when the coach was arrested on charges of theft while attending a US Men’s National Team qualifier. Videos in his possession were confiscated and later reviewed by police. The videos showed the coach placing a camera in a room in his house. Players would later enter the room to change and he would later reappear and retrieve the camera. Neighbors reported that the coach was known to host late night swim parties for young girls, often continuing until 3 a.m. in the morning. Further investigation showed that although the coach had previously been charged with peeping at a tanning salon, the charge was reduced to simple trespassing when it was disposed of. (Full story here). Although the coach in this instance had a conviction, because of the reduction in charges, it would likely not have triggered any red flags on a background check.
This story demonstrates again that background checking is not enough. A comprehensive risk management program would have addressed extra-organizational contact. The parents of his players expressed full knowledge that the children were going to his house. If limits on extra-organizational contact existed and reporting methods were available, this coach could have come to the attention of the soccer association well before his arrest. One of the benefits a strong child protection policy is that it provides awareness for the participants and their parents of the limitations on player-coach interaction, and a means for reporting actions that violate the policies. In the absence of a strong policy, parents may be uncomfortable with some interactions, but not feel justified in bringing them to the attention of the soccer board.
At Placek Consulting, in addition to designing your child protection policies, we can also help you with an implementation and reporting plan to make sure that the policies serve not only to protect your youth participants, but to empower your members to help act as your eyes and ears on matters of child protection.