Posts Tagged ‘information sharing’

Information Sharing: Vagabond Gymnastics Coach Arrested for Molestation and Child Porn

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

Once again, a story of a coach who has bounced from place to place ends in arrests, molestation charges and huge potential liability for the club that hired him. (Full story here.)  A Broward County, Florida gymnastics coach was arrested and facing charges relating to the molestation of an underage student he coached in gymnastics.  In the course of the investigation, his computer was seized and last week federal charges were filed against him for attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, possession of child pornography and the attempted receipt of child pornography.  It may not be surprising to find the two crimes occurring together, but a different revelation in this article should be shocking and worrisome to every group that uses volunteers or paid coaches to work with youth.

As it turns out, this coach was accused of molesting other gymnasts at gyms he worked for in both Missouri and Illinois.  In Illinois, he even plead guilty to a charge of misdemeanor battery.  However, because of the passage of time and the misdemeanor nature of the offense, many criminal background screens would not have flagged the coach as a risk.  This case again highlights the problems with a lack of information sharing between youth sports organizations.  A coach may move from association to association, with bad outcomes at each stop, but unless there is a recent, serious criminal conviction, the background checking process will not prevent the coach from working or volunteering and putting more kids at risk.

At Placek Consulting, we are well aware of the problems of information sharing and are working hard to address the issue.  Our volunteer screening training is one way we help clubs overcome this hurdle.  Let us assist you in designing a volunteer screening process, and training your association to implement it.  Volunteers come and go, and unless you put the effort into proper screening, you could be on the wrong end of a story like this one!

Information Sharing: Arrest of Mobile Coach Highlights Ongoing Challenges

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

The arrest of yet another coach/official on charges of child molestation highlight the ongoing need for information sharing between local sports associations.  Richard Perry, a Rhode Island baseball coach and umpire was arrested after “decades” of involvement in youth baseball.  (Full story here).  The story behind Perry’s arrest should trouble every state association.  Mr. Perry had a long record of service as a baseball coach and umpire.  He even umpired Little League World Series games at one point.  In 2004 a criminal complaint was investigated, but the allegations from the 1990s were deemed to be outside the statute of limitations.

Although Mr. Perry was informally “pushed out” of the baseball league he was working with, he continued to get umpiring assignments from other youth baseball groups.  Amongst his former association, the rumors and suspicion of his behavior were well known.  However, this local knowledge was never communicated outside the organization.  In youth soccer, we have much the same problem, and there seems to be no concerted effort to address this.

While individuals that fail criminal background checks or are suspended by D&P committees may be denied registration, there is little in the way of safeguards to prevent a coach who is denied participation by a local club from moving on to a different organization in the same state or even the same city.  While sharing this information in the past may have been an unreasonably difficult or expensive task, the current state of technology is such that information sharing is feasible if a state association has the commitment to making sure its local members know when other local clubs have rejected or terminated a volunteer.

At Placek Consulting, we have developed uniform volunteer screening procedures that can be used to implement an information sharing database.  Design and implementation of the database is not a prohibitive task.  The challenge is the commitment at the state or national level to making information sharing a priority.  The burden on the local level is miniscule.  In reality, few clubs terminate or reject more than a handful of volunteers a year.  Many clubs have never terminated or rejected a volunteer.  Implementing a statewide system of reporting those rare instances when volunteers are rejected or terminated would put only the smallest burden on the local club.

One possible reason that no information sharing system has been put in place yet may be a concern that information sharing could lead to accusations of defamation by a rejected volunteer.  However, this is again where Placek Consulting shines.  Our reporting forms are designed and reviewed by attorneys to make certain that the information reporting process does not expose the clubs and associations to those types of allegations.  If your state (or area) association is ready to commit to information sharing, let us guide you through the implementation of a properly designed and effective information sharing system.

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.