Ex-YMCA coach faces 7 molestation charges

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Approximately 87,000 children were sexually abused in the US in 2001, according to the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services. As many youth-serving professionals know, abuse, sexual and otherwise, occurs nearly everywhere. Yet, there is a natural inclination to believe abuse won’t happen in our own communities, not to mention our own facility. Awareness of the threat is key, and reinforcing proven abuse prevention strategies is an essential element in protecting the kids in our programs. Both are the goals for our “Abuse Alert” program. Each is a brief treatment of the topic, focusing on one real, recent, public event, gleaned from the media…reprinting the article about the event in its entirety (omitting names and identifying references to the YMCA) and providing a few important teaching points for you to share with your staff. As always, if you need additional guidance on this topic, please call us at 800-463-8546.


“Ex-YMCA coach faces 7 molestation charges”

SMALL NORTHEAST CITY: 08/08/2003 – A former gymnastics coach at the [name] YMCA in [town] has been arrested on charges of child molestation.

Officers in the [name] County Sheriffʼs Department in [a second] state on Thursday arrested [accused molester], 40, on a warrant charging him with seven counts of second-degree child molestation.

[Accused molester], who formerly lived on [name] Street in [city] but whose current address is listed as

[street] in [small town], [second state], was hired at the YMCA in 2001. He was fired last month for violating YMCA rules, and shortly thereafter, members of the gymnastics team reported incidents of touching and other inappropriate conduct, which the YMCA reported to [town] police on July 25.

[Town] Police Chief [name] described second-degree child molestation as “inappropriate touching of a child.” He said the seven charges involve three alleged victims, all girls, ages 9 to 13.

[Police chief] said the investigation, which remains ongoing, is being conducted by [town] Police Detective [name] and Assistant Attorney General [name] of the state attorney generalʼs office.

In addition, assistance has been provided by the Child Advocacy Unit, which assisted in the interviews of the alleged victims.

[Police chief] said that after investigators concluded that [alleged molester] would be charged, a warrant was issued and officers from the [name] County Sheriffʼs Department arrested him Thursday. He is being held without bail pending extradition proceedings to return him to [state] for arraignment on the charges.

This morning, YMCA Executive Director [name] commended the [town] Police Department, particularly [detective], on its work in the case.

“The arrest represents one more important step in the healing process,” he said. Our hearts go out to the girls and families who have been affected.”

[YMCA director] said previously that a background check conducted on [alleged molester] when he was hired in 2001 revealed nothing questionable. The YMCA takes additional steps to provide anti-child abuse training to employees. Every worker attends a Child Abuse Prevention Training Program and signs a code of conduct statement and the topic of child abuse is discussed regularly at staff meetings, [YMCA director] said.

The attorney generalʼs office this morning declined to comment on the investigation.


What we know:
generally…

  • coaches in youth sports, especially those in gymnastics and swim team, develop close relationships with their athletes… much of which is completely unsupervised by YMCA staff
  • children who are involved in programs that travel (this one may or may not have, but gymnastics programs normally do) have elevated exposure to abuse, especially if the children are not accompanied by and housed with their parents
  • parents who aren’t informed about potential child abuse may not recognize the red flags of potential abuse and may even unknowingly embrace or encourage abusive grooming specifically…
  • the criminal background check run on the alleged molester at the time of his hiring by the YMCA revealed no past history of abuse
  • the YMCA provided and followed acceptable abuse prevention protocols
    • child abuse prevention training program
    • signed code of conduct
    • ongoing abuse prevention training in staff meetings
  • the YMCA dismissed the alleged molester
    • for breaking YMCA rules
    • before any allegations had been made
  • the YMCA notified the police when allegations of improper touching were made by some of his former athletes

What we don’t know:

  • if the accused abuser had an undiscovered past history of abuse
  • details about the program, e.g.,
    • whether there were there other coaches or assistant coaches involved * who, if anyone, was supervising or monitoring the coach(es)
    • whether there were parents normally at the practices
    • whether special one-on-one sessions were scheduled
  • the extent, if any, of a parental feed-back system
    • whether the parents were made aware of the Y’s code of conduct for the coach
    • whether the parents were informed of the red flags of potential abuse
    • whether the parents were actively encouraged to report questionable behavior to the extent that both male and female staff members’ names and phone numbers were provided

What we must remember:

  • child molesters are chameleons who can look just like we want them to look…
    • most do not have a criminal record
    • most give Oscar-level performances every single day
  • we cannot over educate our children or parents…
    • many parents won’t read what is sent home the first or even the second time
    • many parents who read abuse prevention material won’t believe what is being said
    • many parents who believe the material will forget the message and become less diligent as time goes by and thus they do not notice potential danger signs
  • we don’t catch molesters molesting… we catch them breaking rules

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