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.