Seattle Swim Coach’s Conduct Leads to $5 Million in Losses

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

More than a decade after firing their swim coach, a Seattle area Parks and Recreation District has settled three molestation lawsuits for a total of almost $5 million (Full Story Here).  A fourth suit was recently filed by yet another victim.  The coach, who worked in Seattle in the mid-90s, was later arrested in California for sexual abuse spanning a nearly thirty year period.  Indeed, one of the charges involved a swimmer allegedly impregnated by the coach before he was even employed in Seattle.  The coach is currently serving a 40 year prison sentence in California.

As is common in these cases, news reports indicate potential risk management warning signs.  According to the lawsuits, a number of parents, including one who was a parks commissioner at the time, raised concerns about King’s behavior toward his young female swimmers. He was often seen with a young girl seated on his lap during swim practices, and was known to take girls to dinner and send them flowers. This type of favoriting and gifting is common grooming behavior.  The lawsuits all alleged the district failed to adequately look into King’s background before hiring him, then failed to conduct annual reviews of his performance that could have led to his firing.  These allegations are consistent with the failure to screen and failure to supervise claims seen in many suits against volunteer youth sports organizations.

At Placek Consulting, we work to create policies to protect children and volunteers by creating open and transparent relationships.  We assist with training and communication with your volunteers and constituents to create a culture of child protection.  Let us review your current policies or assist you in creating a comprehensive risk management program.

Florida Coach Molestation Arrest Highlights Red Flags

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

A Port St. Lucie select coach and club officer was arrested following allegations that, over the course of a year, he molested a 15 year old player on a team he coached. (Full Story Here).  Although the coach passed as many as ten background checks during his time with the club, other signs of potential issues apparently went unheeded.  The coach in question did not fit any stereotypical profile.  He was married with children of his own who played in the club.  Nonetheless, other reports indicate that the coach provided the victim with transportation and gifts. The player described the coach as a “second father”. The coach was also alleged to have held parties for players at his house where alcohol was served.  Some of the alleged criminal conduct was alleged to have occurred at one of these parties.

Sound child protection policies train volunteers to identify signs such as favoriting, gift giving and extra-organizational socializing.  They also seek to create policies that prevent coaches from having isolated contact with players.  Isolated contact is particularly common in transportation and in home settings.  Coaches should not shudder at policies that restrict outside contact with their players.  By preventing isolated contact, players are protected from abuse, while coaches are protected from false allegations.  The child protection policies are also volunteer protection tools.  The use of criminal background checks, which discover only prosecuted behavior, should never prevent a club from creating and following proactive risk management policies.

State and national governing bodies may be interested in our presentation “Beyond Background Checks.”  The information available in criminal background checking is so limited, that its use, to the exclusion of other methods, can actually place participants at greater risk.  The “Beyond Background Checks” program, which can be presented in 60-90 minutes at an annual meeting or workshop, educates club and association directors and administrators about evolving standards relating to the duty of care a youth sports association owes to its youth participants.  The program focuses on volunteer and staff screening and management, but also introduces the concept of Comprehensive Risk Management.

The bulk of the program is dedicated to concrete suggestions in the screening and management of volunteers and paid staff.  The presentation covers both policy development and screening methods.  The volunteer management portion of the program discusses both internal club policy making and external communication of policies to the club membership.

Finally, the program concludes with a discussion of comprehensive risk management.  Comprehensive risk management attempts to instill a culture of proactive risk management within the leadership of the club.  Within the youth sports community, risk management has historically been a reactive measure, driven by the most visible and recent perceived threats to a club.  Comprehensive risk management is an objective and thorough planning process leading to a formal risk management plan for a club.  The program also discusses structural impediments to executing risk management plans.

Clubs and local associations, of course, can always enact risk management programs that exceed the state minimum requirements.  Indeed, where the requirements are minimal, local risk management planning is vital.  Let us help you get started with a review of your child protection and volunteer management policies!

Placek Consulting Continues Online Training Development

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

As mentioned on this site, one of the goals of Placek Consulting is to get interesting and important risk management information into the hands of our clients.  We also strive to help our clients implement good risk management practices by helping them train their volunteers.  As I frequently mention in my presentations, it is very rare that an association will be directly liable for the criminal acts of a volunteer (assault, molestation, etc.).  Rather, the lawsuits generally focus on two negligence allegations: the failure to screen and the failure to train/supervise the volunteers.

At Placek Consulting, we are developing online training programs that address both issues.  In additional to general educational materials on risk management, our online classroom will include training on how to screen volunteers.  In addition, we will be able to deliver low cost child protection training to association volunteers: board members, coaches and team parents.  Thanks to LearnDash, a unique online Learning Management System, our clients will be able to track the training of their volunteers and verify that the people they send out to work with the kids are completing required training programs.  LearnDash also enables us to design custom training programs for your association.  We can incorporate your league or club specific information directly into an online training video.  Again, the LearnDash system enables our clients to track completion of the training.

Imagine the added convenience to your volunteers and the burden lifted off you, administratively.  Preseason information meetings can be conduct online at the convenience of your volunteers.  If you want to deliver child safety training, you no longer have to find a qualified speaker, schedule a meeting and hope that 25% of your coaches show up.  Now you can simply purchase a license, and e-mail the class link to your volunteers.  Most importantly, because of the ease of development with LearnDash and technical advances in streaming technology, we can deliver video training for an effective cost that is often less than $2 a volunteer!  That may be less than you would pay to book a room, much less a speaker!

We anticipate releasing our first training courses this fall, with a full suite of risk management and player safety training available before the end of the seasonal year.  For more information, contact Scott Placek through this website or by calling 512-487-RISK (7475).