Club Sued Over Player-Coach Sexual Misconduct; Lack of Policies Alleged

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

Black Hills Soccer Club, Former Coach Face Sex Abuse Lawsuit

A 23 year old former player has filed suit against her former coach and club alleging that the coach groomed her for years before convincing her to engage in a sexual relationship at the age of 17.    The coach was relieved of his duties, but had been with the club for over a decade.  In 2010, the coach had:

fallen under the suspicion of the Lacey Police Department, after he was contacted by officers February of 2010 with the victim in his van.

According to the police report, an officer responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked on Beckonridge Lane SE just after 9 p.m. The reporting party said the van had been parked for about an hour.

The officer found Cross, then 45, and the victim inside the van. The victim initially told the officer that she was 18, but later admitted that she was 17.

The victim said that Cross had pulled off of the road after feeling dizzy, and they had been talking. The officer wrote in the report that he believed Cross’s actions were, “highly suspect and inappropriate.”

Despite this report, no action was taken against the coach and he continued with the club.  The suit alleges that “the club didn’t have policies in place to prevent coaches from engaging in social interactions with players, texting and calling players for personal reasons, or spending time alone with players.”   The club contends that such a policy was in existence.  This “case isn’t the first in which a Black Hills Football Club coach was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a player. In 2002, former coach Dennis Jones was arrested and charged with five counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, and one count of providing liquor to a minor.”
Placek Consulting can provide your soccer club not only with policies on player-coach interaction, but with an  implementation plan to make player safety a club priority and establish reliable reporting and investigative processes.

The Private Trainer Risk

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

The days when volunteer dads got together and coached a select sports team or gave lessons to their own kids on the driving range or tennis courts are long gone.  At the more select levels of competition, paid coaches work to prepare and coach teams for kids still years away from puberty as well as kids preparing to enter college.  Outside of team practice, cottage industries of private trainers have sprung up across the country, offering parents yet another option for providing extra training and practice for those willing to put in the time and pay the money.  Among youth sports clubs, alliances with private trainers provide both a recruiting edge in selling prospective players on outside training opportunities and a possible pipeline of privately trained players steered to the club.  Alliances between trainers and clubs can benefit both, and are increasing in frequency. On the surface, they appear to be low risk for each party, as there is often no contractual relation or agreement, and even when there is strict independent contractor status is usually maintained.  But is there actually more risk than we might realize?

The past few months have seen a disturbing rise in arrests and allegations against private trainers.  An nationally recognized golf coach was recently charged with over sixty counts of child molestation. (Full Story Here).   Many of the offenses occurred while providing transportation to students or traveling out of town — areas your internal risk management policy should address.  “He befriended them as the cool coach, gave them rides to and from practice and bought them gifts, including top-of-the-line golf equipment,” police said.   Similar arrests have occurred in tennis (See Story) and soccer (See Story).  Consider whether your organization could face liability for referring players to a “preferred” or “exclusive” private trainer.

If your club has entered into a preferred private training relationship, or especially an exclusive one, there is certainly the possibility that your club could be the target of litigation if injury, abuse or molestation occurs in the private training setting.  This is true even if there is no employment relationship between the club and the trainer.  The exposure is further increased if the private training takes place using the club’s facilities.

At Placek Consulting, we caution against creating preferred or exclusive training arrangements with parties that the club cannot control.  However, if your club makes this competitive choice, we can work with you to create appropriate risk management policies and contractual agreements to protect the club.  We can review your existing agreements and advise you on any unanticipated risk created by those agreements.  Contact us at 512-487-RISK for an analysis.

Imposter Coach Collects Player Details

Written by PC News on . Posted in Board Members, Field Safety, Players, Volunteer Management

In the Uvalde (Texas) Independent School District, campus entry restrictions have been tightened after a 22 year old man was found impersonating a college softball coach. (Full story here).  The suspect was arrested after having posed as an assistant coach for the non-existent Laredo Community College softball program.  His cover story was that he had been hired to help start a softball program and was scouting for players.  Because he “looked the part” he was given access to players and obtained their contact information.    He later used this information to contact the players at all hours of the day.  He was charged with five counts of impersonating a public servant.  As a result of his conduct, additional restrictions have been placed on athletic recruiters seeking access to school campuses.

This same concern should apply to youth sports clubs in general, with respect to strangers entering your field complex for any reason.  Certainly, in the select soccer environment, scouts do come to some games.  Sports photographers often show up at public parks and offer their services.  Still other people may appear offering coaching or training services to youth players and their parents.  A good risk management program seeks to control access to youth participants even in public settings.  Field monitors should be alert to people who appear out of place or seek personal information about players. Centralizing recruiting contacts can provide a means to confirm the legitimacy of a contact.  To the extent the club can control access to the venue, strict entry/contact requirements should apply.

Placek Consulting can assist you in creating a field monitoring or vendor management plan.