Posts Tagged ‘coach’

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!

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.