A Utah soccer coach has been arrested and charged with rape of a child, sodomy upon a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, rape, sodomy and forcible sexual abuse. (Read full story). The allegations suggest that the coach was a friend of the player’s family, and that the player would visit the coach in his home. The sexual contact allegedly began at age 13 and continued until age 17. The girl finally confided in a relative, leading to the arrest of the coach. Police were unable to determine if the suspect was still coaching because he refused to be interviewed by investigators and requested an attorney. He is pictured wearing an AC Milan jersey in his mugshot. Police are not sure if there are other victims and are actively investigating.
The circumstances described in this story highlight again the need for soccer clubs to craft clear guidelines regarding acceptable contact between coaches and players in setting outside of club activities. Drafting an extra-organizational contact policy is a careful process that must account for incidental contact, pre-existing relationships between families, and the overriding concern of child protection. In addition, a policy on extra-organizational contact must be coupled with a clear line for reporting and investigating violations.
It seems unlikely that a four year pattern of visits to the house of a coach would be unknown to anyone other than the participants. However, if nobody knew of a prohibition or a way to report their suspicions, knowledge that could have prevented or minimized the extent of the abuse could have gone to waste. Creating extra-organizational contact policies are as important as two adult policies and social media/e-communications policies. At Placek Consulting, we can design a policy customized to the structure of your organization. Contact us through the website or at 512-879-1655 for assistance.