Molesting Gymnastics Coach Threatened Scholarship Opportunities

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

In Colorado, a elite level gymnastics coach faces charges of molesting two boys he trained in the mid-2000’s.  The coach was arrested in Houston, Texas, where he had been working as a coach until the investigation into the Colorado charges led to his firing.  (Full story here).  According to the report, male gymnast between 12 and 14 were molested while alone with the coach.  Pornographic videos were used to lower inhibitions and students were told they were special and his favorite.  To assure silence, the coach allegedly threatened to ruin the college scholarship prospects of any students that reported him.  The story as reported again shows multiple signs of risk management failure.  In particular, allegations that another coach reported concerns over the offender’s behavior with his students leaves the gym in a precarious legal position.

One of the key implementation recommendations we give in developing a risk management plan is the importance of establishing a clear reporting and investigative system.  In this case, the reports do not detail what, if any investigation followed the reports from a fellow coach.  coach did not personally witness any sexual contact, but told management on several occasions about Barke’s behavior.  The coach said the accused would take a “special interest” in certain gymnasts and touched them in a way that was “not necessary” while spotting them or working on training exercises. He also insisted on giving certain students rides home.

That report indicates potential grooming behaviors, including slowly breaking down physical barriers, heaping special attention on certain students, and creating moments of isolation with the student.  The observations of a fellow coach should be taken very seriously and a thorough investigation should have occurred.  Moreover, consider the standard child protection policies that appear not to be in place.  A two adult policy would prohibit one on one time.  A transportation policy would prohibit staff transport of players in isolated conditions.  In addition, the molestation is alleged to have occurred outside the gym.  Extra-organization contact policies should have barred such contact.

Consider the potential outcome if when the report came in from the fellow coach, it was clear that child protection policies were not followed.  An investigation could have possibly prevented future abuse or prevented the coach from later working in a similar position in Houston.

At Placek Consulting, we understand that child protection policies are the first line of defense against predatory behavior.  Combined with a sound reporting and investigative system, a Placek Consulting risk management plan provides a road map to assure that coaches who display indifference toward child safety are identified and removed from your organization.  Let us help you update or implement a child protection plan for your organization.

Soccer Coach Arrested for Videotaping Players Changing Clothes

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

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.

Placek Consulting to Deliver Encore Webinar for NSCAA

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

On April 22, 2013, Scott Placek, managing director of Placek Consulting will present an encore presentation of his webinar “I Didn’t Know, So Sue Me” for the NSCAA Club Standards Project.  The webinar is free online but requires advance registration.  Click here for the registration link.

The Club Standards Project is an evaluative process focusing on youth soccer organizations that is designed to raise the standards and expectations for coach and player development.  Youth organizations participating in the NSCAA Club Standards Project are evaluated on their current performance in Coaching Development, Player Development and Administration.  Risk Management is an ever present administrative challenge for youth sports.  We are pleased to assist the NSCAA in raising awareness of the importance of risk management.