Posts Tagged ‘gymnastics’

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.

Sharing Information Between Clubs – UPDATE

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

Additional reports on the story reported below indicate that the same coach who was arrested had been sued in 2000 over allegations of sexual abuse. (Read Story)

In sum, the coach had been:

* Sued in 2000 for sexual abuse in California;
* Fired in 2008 for undisclosed reasons in Oregon; and
* Subsequently hired at another gymnastics school

prior to being arrested for allegedly photographing young gymnasts in the changing room. Most commercially available background check systems used by youth sports groups will not turn up civil lawsuits. Previous terminations do not turn up in background checks. Could information sharing have prevented the crimes he is currently accused of? When a new coach volunteers with your organization, what steps do you take beyond running a criminal background check. If you terminate a volunteer based on complaints or suspicion, will the next club know?

Let us guide you in developing a comprehensive volunteer screening program.

Sharing Information Between Clubs – The Case of the Fired Gymnastics Coach

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

One of the great unaddressed issues in youth sports risk management is how we share information about “problem” volunteers and employees. This problem is perhaps highlighted by the recent arrest of an Oregon gymnastics coach.

According to the Mail-Tribune, a gymnastics coach, who doubled as a sports photographer, was arrested and charged with encouraging child sexual abuse and invasion of privacy after a search of his home turned up photographs of young gymnasts in various states of undress. According to the report, the suspect would videotape his photo shoot subjects in the changing room. He was discovered in conjunction with an investigation for downloading child pornography.

The article also reports that the suspect had worked at another gymnastics school and been terminated. The owner of the school refused to answer questions about the reason for his termination saying he was “was fired from SOGA on April 23, 2008 for reasons that were never disclosed… We cannot speak about the charges against [the suspect] and how they pertain to SOGA at this time, per the request of the lead detective.” The article indicates that he was hired with at least one more school, and continued his photography business after this time. He also had previously worked as a coach in southern California. While we don’t know the nature of the initial termination, the silence of the first employer raises questions. Was there information that would have led another school not to hire him? Could sharing information have prevented the crimes he is accused of?

State and national governing bodies should be looking to facilitate information sharing between their affiliate members. This is particularly important in an increasingly mobile society. A local club may terminate a problem volunteer, but without sufficient information sharing, that volunteer may become a problem, and a threat, to another nearby club. Ask Placek Consulting how we can help you achieve this goal.

Read the original story here. Mail Tribune.com