Archive for the ‘Abuse/Molestation’ Category

NMAA New Bylaws Levy Sanctions For Bad Fan Behavior In High School Sports

High schools under the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) recently took a significant step towards curbing unsportsmanlike conduct in sports. Nearly 80% of the membership approved an update to Bylaw 7.7.4 that governs Crowd Control & Unsportsmanlike Conduct. But what exactly does this mean, and will the new regulations make a difference? Let’s break it down.

The Revamped Rules: A Snapshot

Starting from the 2023-2024 school year, the modified bylaw now presents the following changes:

For Team Members: Should any team participant (including coaches) engage in an “egregious act of unsportsmanlike conduct” twice or more in the same season, at the same school, and in the same activity, the team will be suspended from that activity for the rest of the season.

For Spectators: A non-team participant who exhibits unsportsmanlike behavior twice or more in the same conditions as above will result in the suspension of all spectators for that activity for the remainder of the season.

Defining Unsportsmanlike Conduct: The NMAA Handbook now defines unsportsmanlike behavior as not just a violation of specific sport rules but also as actions that don’t align with the “Compete with Class” initiative and broader educational objectives.

Consequences Extend to the Next Season: If the second violation occurs at the end of the season, penalties could spill over into the next season for that same activity.

The bylaw also lists examples of what constitutes egregious unsportsmanlike conduct. This includes fans engaging in violent acts, verbal abuse against officials, and more. For those interested in further details, here’s a link to the NMAA Handbook.

The Real Problem: Is Legislation the Answer?

While the efforts of NMAA are praiseworthy, one cannot help but wonder if merely changing bylaws will change people’s behavior. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has already tried to discourage unruly fan behavior by imposing fines. But has it worked? Data suggests that it has not significantly reduced incidents and as a result the SEC is upping the penalties.

Digging Deeper: The Root Causes

It’s essential to examine the underlying reasons for such conduct. Is it the hyper-competitive nature of sports? Is it parents pushing their children to win at all costs? Could it be symptomatic of a more violent society at large? The reality is, many stadiums and arenas already have fan codes of conduct prominently displayed. Despite this, disruptive behavior persists. To truly effect change, we need to investigate the root causes.

Legal Complexities: The Devil Is in the Details

Moreover, the bylaw opens a can of legal worms. Questions about what counts as an “egregious act,” what happens in the case of false claims, or how this affects sponsorship deals and similar contracts are bound to arise. If such rules are to be effective, they will need to be scrutinized for every possible interpretation and loophole.

Conclusion: The Jury’s Still Out

In conclusion, NMAA’s newly revised bylaw is a significant step in attempting to manage unsportsmanlike conduct. However, the efficacy of such a rule change remains to be seen. While the bylaw is ambitious, it raises numerous questions that need to be addressed for it to be truly effective. For now, it seems the journey to civil sportsmanship is still fraught with challenges that extend beyond mere rule-setting.

In My Opinion

The new bylaw may not have gone far enough to control parental bad fan behavior in high school sports. One additional idea is to punish the player with practice and game suspension for their parent’s bad behavior. Knowing that their child will face consequences for their bad behavior is likely to be a powerful positive motivator for parents. For other ideas on controlling sports violence, see my blog entitled Sports Anti-Violence Risk Management For Amateur Sports Associations.

Acknowledgments

This article was inspired by the original work of Gil Fried and published in Sports Facilities and the Law, a free-subscription publication for industry professionals. To read more from the publication, visit Sports Facilities and the Law.

Youth Sports Misconduct Extends To Social Media

And includes cyberbullying

The excitement of a new school year brings enthusiasm for the beginning of many youth sports seasons. As competitions get underway, coaches, activity directors and athletic staff also may become aware of instances of bullying and cyberbullying.

Children’s sports team coaches and athletic staff may be surprised to learn that the fundamentals of sportsmanship now extend to participants’ online behavior.

In the past, emphasis has been on exercising good sportsmanship on the playing field or court. Today, participants can endanger themselves or their organization with sports misconduct while online.

Examples of cyberbullying violations

It is a violation of Safe Sport risk management programs if a staff member knows or should have known of bullying behavior, but takes no action to intervene. Athletic staff need training to recognize, address and prevent such behavior.

Youth sports misconduct includes using electronic communication against someone to:

  • Harass
  • Frighten
  • Intimidate
  • Humiliate
  • Threaten
  • Socially isolate

Prohibited cyberbullying behavior also includes attempts to diminish or exclude another participant physically, emotionally or sexually.

According to StopBullying.gov the most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
  • Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
  • Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
  • Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
  • Email
  • Online gaming communities

State laws address cyberbullying

While there is no Federal law that specifically applies to cyberbullying, individual states have laws to protect people from bullying. Click here to see your state’s laws.

Often, it is not the staff, but other participants – such as parents or guardians – who perpetrate bullying. School sports and activity programs need to be aware that good sportsmanship applies, whether in the sport or activity itself, or online.

It is important to note that bullying does not include group or team behaviors to encourage a culture of team unity and/or harder training effort. To learn more about what constitutes bullying, see the Sadler Child Abuse Protection Program.

A participant or parent/guardian who participates in any act of bullying should be subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent ban, and referral to law enforcement authorities.

League organizers, sports complex managers, board members, coaches, athletes, umpires and performers involved in youth sports face unique risks.

Types of cyberbullying lawsuits

As the ease of digital communication evolves, an environment conducive to cyberbullying flourishes. A single inappropriate post or action can put you and your organization at risk. At any moment, an accusation of negligence, abuse, neglect or misconduct can be alleged, along with a lawsuit alleging bodily injury, emotional distress, personal injury, or failure to follow your own rules and bylaws if you don’t take action to address a prohibited activity.

Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself is to formally adopt and implement a Child Abuse Protection Plan such as the one that we have customized for our clients. In addition, you should protect yourself and your organization with the purchase of both General Liability and Directors & Officers Liability insurance. Call Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370 to learn more or click on “get quote” in the top navigation bar above to find the custom program which best fits your needs.

 

$300M Locker Room Peeping Lawsuit Alleges Child Abuse / Privacy Issues

Lessons to be learned about managing locker rooms to prevent child abuse and invasion of privacy

The class-action lawsuit filed in S.C. State Court alleges that Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina knowingly allowed windows for staff viewing of students inside the boy’s and girls’ gym locker rooms. The windows were apparently installed in 1998 when Bishop England opened their new campus. After 21 years, an undisclosed number of former and some current students spoke out against the school, which is under the oversight of the Diocese Of Charleston. The list of defendants includes not only Bishop England and the Diocese of Charleston but also Bishop Robert Guglielmone. Bishop Guglielmone recently retired in May of 2019 at the age of 75.

This case is illustrative for the youth sports clients of Sadler Sports Insurance that have locker rooms and changing rooms either on owned or leased premises or at other premises. Note that the definition of child abuse includes non-touching offenses such as voyeurism and the photographing of minors for sexual purposes when they have an expectation of privacy. There can be a fine line between the duty to monitor and prevent bullying and hazing versus sexual misconduct. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has published guidelines for locker rooms and changing areas which maximizes privacy and child abuse protection for athletes by not allowing a continuous presence by staff inside of locker rooms. Instead, staff should be located directly outside of locker rooms and should be on call if a problem arises but periodic sweeps are encouraged.

Public knowledge emerges from voyeurism charge against school employee with window overlooking locker rooms

Public knowledge first emerged in 2019 when the school’s sports information director, Jeffrey Alan Scofield, was arrested for voyeurism. The employee told detectives that his office window overlooked the boys’ locker room, and he set up his phone between the windows and blinds for video recording. He then downloaded the videos onto a school computer. The employee was subsequently fired, convicted of voyeurism, and sentenced to time served plus 18 months probation along with being listed under the state’s sexual offender registry with a requirement to seek mental health counseling.

Defendants sued for $300 million for invasion of privacy and sexually abusive actions

The lawsuit alleges that Bishop England engaged in “dishonest, deceptive and sexually abusive actions” when it failed to protect students. The charges include invasion of privacy, various acts of negligence, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment. The Diocese publicly denounced the accusation as having absolutely no merit stating thehigh school sued for $300 million for viewing windows in locker room windows were in place merely to supervise students to prevent smoking, bullying, fighting, and other improper behavior. The plaintiffs are asking for $300 million in damages. Larry Richter, a previous graduate of the high school in the 1960s, is the attorney handling the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. Richter enacted a previous class-action case against the Diocese of Charleston. He won a $12 million settlement on the grounds of child sexual abuse.

Since 1998, students undressed in front of coaches who had access to the windows. Richter claims the school did nothing for years to get rid of the windows. He further questions why they were ever installed in the first place.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, Bishop England has subsequently boarded over the windows and replaced them with a brick wall.

Trainings and procedures to protect students from child sexual abuse

Bishop England firmly states that they have all the proper procedures and screenings in place for new employees. The school requires all new staff to:

  • Pass a background check
  • Attend child abuse prevention training
  • Attend student boundary training
  • Sign a code of conduct overseeing how they interact with minors

Huge number of potential sex abuse victims from locker room setting

But despite these requirements and trainings, child abuse allegedly still occurred. With 687 students in the student-body, Bishop Englandsexually abusive locker room windows, high school sued High School is the largest Catholic high school in the state. Over the course of 21 years, the number of students victim to peering is theoretically in the thousands. The number gets even larger. Richter states that visiting athletes from other schools shared the locker rooms as well.

How this case applies to youth sports organizations that use locker rooms and changing areas

While this lawsuit’s subject matter occurred in the school setting, youth sports participants are subject to the same types of invasion of privacy and sexual abuse. Child abuse is not limited to just inappropriate touching. The definition of illegal child abuse is quite broad and includes voyeurism and inappropriately videotaping youth in various states of undress.

In the past, youth sports administrators keyed in solely on criminal background checks to protect their youth from predators. The problem with putting all the eggs in the background check basket is that the vast majority of predators don’t have a detectable criminal background. 

Therefore, merely running background checks is not enough to protect youth. The Safe Sport Act requires sports organizations at a minimum to provide:

  • Mandatory educational training of adult staff and volunteers with access to youth. This should include defining the various forms of child abuse including no touching offenses such as voyeurism and how to handle locker room and changing room settings.
  • Offer minor training at the discretion of the parent/guardian
  • Implement policies and procedures to reduce the chances of an incident
  • Report suspicions to local law enforcement within 24 hours
  • Prohibit retaliation for whistleblowers

Sadler Sports Insurance offers free child abuse risk management content

Be sure to check out our free child abuse/molestation risk management content which includes the industry-leading blog on the Safe Sport Act, child abuse risk management templates, types of criminal background checks, and sources of criminal background checks. The document entitled Sadler Safe Sport Child Abuse and Other Misconduct Risk Management Plan includes a section on how to manage locker rooms and changing areas.


Sources:

Caitlin Byrd. SC’s largest Catholic high school sued for $300M for invasive locker room windows. The State. February 4, 2021.

Drew Tripp. Bishop England, Diocese of Charleston sued for $300M over student exploitation claims. ABC News 4. February 4, 2021.

Catherine Kohn and Kenna Coe. $300 million lawsuit filed against Bishop England High School. Moultrie News. February 4, 2021.

 

Protecting Against Sexual Abuse and Molestation in Youth Sports

Preventing Grooming is the Key

Do parents who send their children to ball practice ever think that they might be handing them over to a sexual predator?  That’s probably the last thing that crosses their mind. They assume that they can trust the coaches, volunteers and league administrators who come in contact with their children.

Child sexual predators fall into one of two categories: “grabbers” and “groomers.” Most sexual misconduct involves grooming, which can easily be confused with innocent behavior. The best way to protect children against sexual grooming, and thus sexual misconduct, is to protect them against inappropriate boundary invasions.

Sexual grooming by adults involves a process with the following elements:

  • Finding a vulnerable child lacking self-confidence, low self- esteem, or parental attention.
  • Involving the child in peer-like activities such as hanging out away from the ballpark.
  • Desensitizing the child to touch such by tickling, patting, stroking, or wrestling.
  • Isolating by spending a significant amount of time alone with the child and urging them to keep secrets.
  • Making the child feel responsible for the sexual misconduct that has occurred.
  • Inappropriate boundary invasions involve the adult invading the child’s personal life or personal space by the following actions:
  • Showing undue interest in a child
  • Giving gifts
  • Granting special privileges
  • Discussing adult matters
  • Keeping secrets
  • Protecting youth athletesBeing alone with, attending outings with, transporting to school and events
  • Telling sexual jokes, showing pornography, asking sexual questions
  • Hugging, kissing, physical contact

The following steps help prevent inappropriate boundary invasions:

  • Educate administrators, employees, and volunteers on the definition of and associated behaviors of inappropriate boundary invasions, sexual grooming, and sex abuse/molestation.
  • Expressly prohibit inappropriate boundary invasions.
  • Require all employees, and volunteers to report all inappropriate boundary invasions to administration.
  • Correct and discipline offenders and those who fail to report.

Also, we strongly recommended that the General Liability policy covering the league should be endorsed to include a specific coverage limit for sex abuse and molestation.

Deterring Child Predators in Youth Sports

Protecting kids is a group effort

League administrators are responsible for doing everything in their power to protect children. It is unfortunate that not everyone is aware of the dangers that sexual predators pose or are how this battle to protect our children can be fought.  

The September 1999, Sports Illustrated article “Every Parent’s Nightmare”  is still relevant.  It’s an in-depth, in-your-face report about abuse in youth sports. The article takes readers inside the heads of  the average sexual predator. It delves deep into the thought process of predators who found their victims on ballfields. Those highlighted in the story made a combined effort to let readers know HOW they got to the children and signs for which parents and other adults need to be on the lookout.

Coach abuse in youth sports

It’s much broader than just sex abuse/molestation

Sex abuse and molestation by coaches tends to get the most attention in the media and cause a lot of outrage, but there are many other forms of coach abuse. Sports administrators and parents can protect youth by being aware of physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse, neglect, bullying, harassment, and hazing or initiation rituals. Such behaviors have resulted in many lawsuits against coaches and administrators.

A quality risk management plan that deals with sex abuse and molestation will also incorporate these other types of abuse. We offer many articles on abuse in youth sports, which we encourage you to read. We recommend reading this excellent article that provides a full definition and examples of each of these types of abuse.

The Rate of Abuse and Molestation in Youth Sports

How prevalent is it?

The media makes sure we know when allegations and indictments of sexual abuse take place in our communities. This is true particularly when children are the victims. Schools, religious and recreational youth organizations are ripe for the picking by such predators.

But a study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that instances of all types of abuse within youth organizations are actually quite rare. The researchers surveyed more than 13,000 children, including infants and children to age 17. The results show that less than 1 percent reported any type of abuse. And of that percentage, only 6.4 percent reported some type of sexual abuse.

The bad news

As encouraging as that is, it still means the up to 100,000 children may be subjected to sexual abuse while participating in youth-oriented activities.

The study results raise another point for concern. Of the children surveyed who reported abuse, 64 percent said the abuse was emotional or verbal, specifically saying they had felt scared or bad because an adult “called you names, said mean things to you, or said they didn’t want you.” That puts estimates at 1 million children being subjected to abuse of a non-physical nature. That is 10 times the number of those being sexually abused.

Defining abuse

It’s important to note that the statistics of abuse are never exact. This is due in part to underreporting of incidents, but also because of the different definitions of the word abuse. Government agencies use a legal definition, while JAMA Pediatrics’ criteria is whether the child feels he or she has been abused. In fact, the final conclusion of the study is that abuse in youth organizations is relatively rare and dwarfed by abuse perpetrated by family members and other adults.

Preventing and combating abuse

Nonetheless, parents need to be aware of their child’s youth organization’s policies and procedures regarding screening and training of staff and volunteers. And parents should work together to make sure at least one parent is at every event, practice and game and tasked with monitoring the behavior of staff and volunteers.

We know that abuse and molestation incidents, while rare, result in very costly claims and demand serious risk management attention. Our risk management page has a section with resources devoted to abuse and molestation prevention.

What if the sex offender is a parent or spectator?

Most national organizations require criminal background checks of coaches, which includes at a Coach abuseminimum, national database checks and sexual offender registry checks. Throughout our risk management materials you will find that even if it’s not required by law, these screenings are highly recommended.

But what should a league do when the registered sex offender is a parent or a spectator?

The first step is consulting your local attorney since he/she would be familiar with the particular state laws. Also, make sure that the organization is following its own policies and bylaws. The General Liability policies that we write for national organizations may require that volunteers be screened, but not parents who aren’t volunteers. This is because, as a general rule, only a volunteer who has repeated access to youth is in a position to groom them for molestation.

Whether background checks are required or not, a lot can be accomplished by educating the team/league, volunteers, and parents on inappropriate boundary invasions.  

Why organizations hide sexual abuse incidents

What drives organizations to conceal such vile behavior?

News of yet another sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church sparked fresh outrage. The abuse itself is enough to make your blood boil. But it boggles the mind knowing so many were in the know and helped cover up the scandal over the course of 70+ years.

To think that maintaining the church’s reputation and finances outweigh the wellbeing of more than 1000 children.

Of course, religious institutions (Catholic and Protestant) aren’t the only organizations that cover up such crimes. Sex abuse within USA Gymnastics was horribly widespread. Unbelievably, the investigation uncovered that the team physician, who should have been the most trusted adult in organization, was a pedophile of the worst ilk. Longstanding shameful behaviors and crimes among celebrities and business executives are also being exposed through the #MeToo movement.

Who and what are being protected

These scandals are covered up because too often the perpetrators or those enabling the predators are a substantial source of income or influence. Their high value to the organization translates to greed, which unfortunately overrides any moral obligation to the victims.

They frequently move around within the organization or the spotlight on them is lowered to reduce the risk of discovery. The culture within the organization breeds silence. Victims quit talking since they aren’t believed. Witnesses fear retaliation for speaking up, including losing their jobs, and therefore turn a blind eye.

For years, complaints about Olympics gymnastics physician Larry Nassar fell on deaf ears. Joe Paterno and others at Penn State were aware of Jerry Sandusky’s suspected activities long before the story broke in 2011. Football and the legendary Paterno, who coached there for 45 years, reigned supreme: total revenue from the football program in 2010 was $70.2 million.

When silence isn’t golden

It’s all about protecting the money and preserving the brand, never about the victims. Ironically, these institutions are actually hurting the people positioned to grow the organization. Sports organizations need athletes, churches need parishioners, and Hollywood needs actresses. Go figure.

In the end, it all comes down to the organization’s powerful word against the victim’s weak voice. Who’s going to believe a kid making accusations about their coach or a starlet’s claims against a director? This is what results from the predator’s grooming process and the code of silence within the organization.

It’s shocking to learn that complaints about the abuse in the Pennsylvania dioceses were locked in a secret archive. Maintaining this archive is actually required by their Code of Canon Law  – and only a bishop holds the key to it.  

The bottom line and the Safe Sport Act

There will always be sexual deviants in society. Some organizations attract them in greater numbers than others because of the populations they serve. Children are always an easy target, as are vulnerable women.

It’s important to identify the problem and then manage it. Setting the right tone and establishing policies and procedures is the responsibility of those at the top.

The new Safe Sport Act was signed into law in February of 2018. It applies to most youth sports organizations. The Safe Sport Act directly targets those organizations that want to handle matters internally. It requires any adult with access to youth to report a suspicion of child abuse directly to law enforcement within 24 hours.

We offer more information on mandatory reporting requirements and the latest in child abuse education and prevention in our Safe Sport Child Abuse And Other Misconduct Risk Management Program For Non NGG Organizations program.

Who gets sued and the delayed nature of lawsuits

It is also interesting to note that litigation for sex abuse and molestation can occur decades after the incidents. This is because there is no statute of limitations on this type of behavior.

The alleged abuser, the legal entity, and respective directors and officers will all be sued for failure to screen, failure to respond to an allegation, or failure to implement policies and procedures to prevent occurrences. It is critical for organizations to keep all General Liability policies on hand indefinitely in the event of future litigation. In addition, the past administration will be held accountable for their lack of oversight based on today’s standards instead of past standards, which were much more relaxed.

The delayed-reaction nature of litigation for sexual abuse and molestation means a claims-made policy form is inferior to the occurrence policy form under a General Liability policy. Please read “Occurrence vs Claims Insurance Made For Sports Organizations” for more detailed information. In addition, it is strongly recommended that the General Liability policy covering the sports organization should be endorsed to include specific coverage for sex abuse and molestation.

Please contact us if you have any questions about risk management to reduce the chances of child abuse and other misconduct or need an insurance quote for your sports organization.


Sources:

Cheerleader Forced into Painful Splits Example of Physical Abuse

Recognizing the signs and putting a plan in place

Regular readers of my blog and certainly all my clients know that I take a strong stand against child abuse. Any form of child abuse/molestation is reprehensible and goes against the spirit of healthy sports participation. To help combat the problem, we offer free abuse/molestation risk management programs and training.

Sexual abuse in youth sports has dominated the headlines in recent years. But it’s important to remember that abuse can take many forms.

We recently became aware of an investigation into astonishing allegations of abuse by two Denver cheerleading coaches. A video of a first-year cheerleader being forced into the splits despite her pleas to stop is currently circulating in the media. Several other girls on the East High School squad allegedly suffered injuries from the same treatment. Particularly appalling are reports of the girls’ teammates being told to hold their arms to brace them in the splits position.

These alleged incidents occurred at the school’s cheer camp in June. Parents of the girl in the video sent the video to East High’s athletic director that month. However no action was taken. Eventually, an anonymous tipster contacted Denver police. The coaches, two school administrators and a district deputy counsel are on administrative leave during the investigation.

What is abuse?

It’ll be difficult to refute what’s on the video. There’s no doubt that forcing such stretches constitutes abuse. I contacted Tammy Gagne, American Youth Football’s National Cheer Commissioner. Here’s what she had to say:

“Proper stretching starts with a warm-up that includes some type of movement that will increase body temperature to improve muscle elasticity. Once the body temperature is raised, athletes do a number or stretches where they are in control of their own bodies, holding a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, never bouncing or over stretching.

There are a number of stretches where athletes are paired with another athlete and they help each other stretch, these stretches are never done to a level where there is pain, and they are done slowly to ensure the athlete is comfortable with the stretch. Communication is key between the two athletes stretching each other.”

Of course, child Abuse presents in different ways. Ridicule and put downs are verbal abuse  Any touching that hurts is physical abuse, including any touching or excessive exercise used as punishment. Emotional abuse often consists of isolation, humiliation, intimidation, and threats to perform unreasonable tasks. Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity without consent and by use of force or verbal threat.

Combatting physical abuse

It’s important to be aware of red flags that may signal physical abuse. Other than obvious examples of a coach hitting, throwing equipment or shaking a player, be aware of these coaching methods:

  • Behaviors that seem violent versus disciplinary
  • Illegal moves (often associated with injuries) are encouraged
  • Training practices that become abusive
  • Fighting that is encouraged or ignored
  • Allowing athlete(s) to become physically or verbally abusive
  • Teaching improper techniques or encouraging conduct that violates safety rules
  • Behaviors resulting in injuries to athlete(s)

Gagne is quite succinct in her perspective on abuse: “A coach’s first responsibility is to keep the athlete safe.”

We believe that too. Consequently, we provide information on preventing child abuse in youth sports and a free customizable Abuse Risk Management Program on our risk management page. If you have questions or concerns, please call us at (800) 622-7370.


UPDATE:

A Denver Police Department investigation  resulted in a decision not to press criminal charges in the story referred to above. Personnel fallout from the scandal:

  • Coach Ozell Williams was fired two after the news story aired.
  • Principal Andy Mendelsberg retired in the wake of the report citing multiple failures to act following complaints made by the parents of multiple cheerleaders.
  • Assistant Principal Lisa Porter serving as athletic director, resigned.
  • Five assistant principals were disciplined, though no details are known. All five saw portions of the video in question.
  • Denver Public School Attorney Michael Hickman was reinstated disciplined for failing to follow up on the limited information Mendelsberg provided.
  • Mariah Cladis, a volunteer assistant cheer coach, was cleared of wrongdoing.

This shouldn’t have happened

Journalists uncovered the fact that Williams was terminated in 2016 from his position as a cheerleading consultant at Boulder High School upon being observed by another coach forcing splits on cheerleaders as did at East High.

Williams did not disclose that fact in his application for the job at East High. He listed in the “employment history” section of his application only two previous jobs: that of “professional dunker” at Denver Nuggets games and the business he owns,  Mile High Tumblers.

The investigation revealed that Porter never contacted anyone at Boulder High to check Williams’ references, which were listed on his resume.


Sources:

Deterring Child Predators in Youth Sports

Protecting kids is a group effort

Do parents who send their children to ball practice ever think that they might be handing them over to a sexual predator?  That’s probably the last thing that crosses their mind.  They assume that they can trust the coaches, volunteers and league administrators who come in contact with their children..

The predatSad soccer playeror’s thought process

League administrators are responsible to do all in their power to protect these children.  It is unfortunate that not everyone is aware of the dangers that sexual predators pose or are how this battle to protect our children can be fought.  The September 1999, Sports Illustrated article “Every Parent’s Nightmare”  is still relevant.  It’s an in-depth, in-your-face report about abuse in youth sports. The article takes readers inside the heads of  the average sexual predator. It delves deep into the thought process of predators who found their victims on ballfields. Those highlighted in the story made a combined effort to let readers know HOW they got to the children and signs for which parents and other adults need to be on the lookout.

Although there is no foolproof method to prevent sexual abuse and molestation, we can work together as a team to put safeguards in place.  In collaboration with attorneys, insurance underwriters and national risk managers, we have developed information to provide our youth sports league administrators, coaches and volunteers with the necessary tools for putting a risk management program in place.  The risk management section of our website provides a Child Abuse and Molestation Protection Program, Child Abuse and Molestation Handout for Parents, and specific information on conducting criminal background checks.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like any further information.

The Rate of Abuse and Molestation in Youth Sports

How prevalent is it?

The media makes sure we know when allegations and indictments of sexual abuse take place in our communities, particularly when children are the victims. Schools, religious and recreational youth organizations are ripe for the picking by such predators.

But a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that instances of all types of abuse within youth organizations are actually quite rare. The researchers surveyed more than 13,000 children, including infants and children to age 17. The results show that less than 1 percent reported any type of abuse. And of that percentage, only 6.4 percent reported some type of sexual abuse.

The bad news

As encouraging as that is, it still means the up to 100,000 children may be subjected to sexual abuse while participating in youth-oriented activities.

The study results point out another point for concern. Of the children surveyed who reported abuse, 64 percent said the abuse was emotional or verbal, specifically saying they had felt scared or bad because an adult “called you names, said mean things to you, or said they didn’t want you.” That puts estimates at 1 million children being subjected to abuse of a non-physical nature, which is 10 times the number of those being sexually abused.

Defining abuse

It’s important to note that the statistics of abuse are never exact, in part due to underreporting of incidents, but also because of the different definitions of the word abuse. Government agencies use a legal definition, while JAMA Pediatrics’ criteria is whether the child feels he or she has been abused. In fact, the final conclusion of the study is that abuse in youth organizations is relatively rare and is dwarfed by abuse perpetrated by family members and other adults.

Preventing and combating abuse

Nonetheless, parents need to be aware of their child’s youth organization’s policies and procedures regarding screening and training of staff and volunteers. And parents should work together to make sure at least one parent is at every event, practice and game who is tasked with monitoring the behavior of staff and volunteers.

At Sadler Sports Insurance, we know that abuse and molestation incidents, while rare, result in very expensive claims and demand serious risk management attention. Our risk management page has a section with resources devoted to abuse and molestation prevention. Our resources range from a simple one-page abuse/molestation risk management program to a comprehensive seven page programs that covers all aspects from A to Z. We also have sex abuse and molestation training videos for your administrators and staff.


Source: Janet Rosenweig. “What is the rate of child abuse in schools, rec groups?” philly.com. 01 Feb. 2016.

Penn State settlements in sex abuse lawsuits reach $93M

Settlements average $2.9 million per claim.

Six of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse accusers have settled with Penn State, bringing the total paid out thus far to $93 million. It is possible there are still outstanding claims that will be paid out in the future. A university audit statement shows the school has paid or agreed to pay 32 claims, according to a Nov. 25 WJAC-TV report.

Sandusky, serving a 30 to 60 year prison sentence, is appealing his conviction for 45 counts of sexual abuse that was at the center of a 2012 scandal. There are appeals rulings pending against three former administrators at the university who are seeking to have charges of covering up abuse complaints dropped.The court recently restored Sandusky’s pension from Penn State.

Last month, a case brought by Victim 6 against Penn State and Sandusky’s charity The Second Mile was dismissed after a confidential settlement was reached. In October 2013, the university settled with 26 people for $59.7 million and last April, the university’s board of trustees authorized settlement of additional Sandusky-related suits.

While your sports organization will likely never be embroiled in a lawsuit of this magnitude, sex abuse and molestation are very real risks within youth sports. We offer free risk management material to help prevent sex abuse. Many of our General Liability programs include coverage for sex abuse & molestation. To get a quote, visit www.sadlersports.com and click on “get quote”.


Source: “Penn State’s Sandusky Settlement Total Nearly $94M,” insurancejournal.com. 30 Nov. 2015.

Coach Abuse in Youth Sports

It’s much broader than just sex abuse/molestation

Sex abuse and molestation by coaches tends to get the most attention in the media and cause a lot of outrage, but there are many other forms of coach abuse. Sports administrators and parents can protect youth by being aware of physical,, emotional, and/or verbal abuse, neglect, bullying, harassment, and hazing or initiation rituals. Such behaviors have resulted in many lawsuits against coaches and administrators.

A quality risk management plan that deal with sex abuse and molestation will also incorporate these other types of abuse. We offer many articles on abuse in youth sports, which we encourage you to read. Click on the link below for an excellent article that provides a full definition and examples of each of these types of abuse.

Source: “What Every Parent Should Know About Athlete Abuse: What Parents Can Do To Help Prevent Abuse,” Safe4Athletes.org.

Sexual Abuse/Molestation Insurance for Sports Organizations

The risks organizations face and the preconditions for coverage

Child Abuse in Youth SportsSexual abuse and molestation is, unfortunately, a major topic of conversation within youth sports insurance in the past decade.  The sports insurance carriers that write General Liability have been decimated with a number of large settlements and adverse jury verdicts.

As a result, most carriers are not willing to extend coverage for abuse/molestation unless risk management controls are in place.  In other cases, the coverage is only available by tapping into custom programs for larger governing and sanctioning bodies that have significant negotiating power.

Coverage for abuse/molestation is important because all directors and officers will be sued along with the alleged abuser.  The directors and officers will be sued for failure to screen out staff with criminal backgrounds, failure to respond to an allegation, and failure to implement policies and procedures such as the use of a “buddy system” and prohibition of overnight sleepovers.

As a precondition of coverage, many insurance carriers will require mandatory background checks on all staff with access to youth, as well as the adoption of a risk management awareness program.

We have more detailed information on the various types of background checks and the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as a free and simplified Abuse/Molestation Protection Program on our risk management page.