A Virginia soccer coach arrested and charged with inappropriately touching an 11 year old player provides yet another clear example of patterns common in the grooming and pursuit of young victims by adult authority figures. (Full Story Here). The suspect was a coach at an indoor soccer facility and also had worked as a part time school coach and for a club team. He was arrested after the victim’s mother discovered lewd text messages on her son’s phone from the coach. Further, the abuse was alleged to have occurred when the coach gave the player a ride to watch a soccer game outside of the organization.
Posts Tagged ‘extra-organizational contact’
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!
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.