By Cherry Simpson
Dozens of predator coaches banned: report AFP) – Apr 9, 2010
There is a growing trend of sex abuse by coaches in the world of girls’ sports that is being compared (in numbers of victims) to what happened in the Catholic Church. Why haven’t we heard more about these coaches that prey until recently? What should we look for and what can we do to stop it? I fear the stories linked here are only the tip of an iceburg heading right toward our children.
Oak Harbor swim coach convicted of rape featured Friday on national TV
Recently I watched a 20/20 Interview on USA Swimming Coaches sexually molesting teenagers in their care. Exposure of the teen molestation scandal has resulted in as many as 35 swimming coaches being banned from the USA swimming organization over the past ten years for molestation and child sex abuse.
20/20 asks what happens when these coaches are caught?
I was disturbed to find out not much was being done to stop this from happening, and it appears to have been a growing trend for some time. According to a series of articles done in 2003 by The Seattle Times entitled “Coaches that Prey: The Abuse of Girls and the System” it’s the dark side of the growing world of girls sports. Take a good look at this series; it has everything, what to look for, actual cases, charts and statistics. It's a real eye opener. It isn’t just the USA Swimming organizations who have this problem of coaches molesting young female atheletes, it’s every girls sport.
Coaches have a sort of celebrity status among young impressionable female athletes. The bond between a coach and a young girl is strong and coaching is ripe for sexual misconduct. Coaches work with athletes for long hours, some for years, in settings like locker rooms and out-of-town tournaments. Coaches tell them what to eat, how to train and even with whom to be friends.
What can parents do to make sure this doesn’t happen to their daughter’s? The Seattle Times includes a solutions page entitled “How parents can spot trouble before it's too late” It offers good advice for spotting trouble before it begins. The red flag list includes: long inappropriate full body hugs, rides home, out of town trips, inappropriate text messages, phone conversations, coaches who jump from team to team, or if your daughter suddenly wants to quit or change schools.
Parents need to be wary and diligent in protecting their children especially at such a critical impressionable age of development. Parents need to speak up if they see any inappropriate behavior. Robin Sax writes about what to do in her book Predators and Child Molesters: A Sex Crimes D.A. Answers 100 Of The Most Asked Questions If just one child is molested it will effect many.
Think for a moment, a girl of the age of 13 is seen kissing her coach, other young girls can and will begin to see this behavior as acceptable, if left unchecked. A coach who will sexually abuse one looks for other vulnerable girls. Although there are a few cases of women coaches, the vast majority of cases involved male coaches and girls.
The demand of quality coaches in girls’ sports has grown steadily since the 1970’s. When Congress passed the U.S. Gender-Equity Law (Title 9) which led to a boom in female sports participation. This created an insatiable need for coaches, most of whom are men.
Parents often ignore the warning signs of sexual misconduct. Some parents may suspect abuse and do little to stop it, trusting the coaches while doubting their children.
In this era of one-parent families many look to sports as a way to help their children build self-esteem. Many offenders are not reported and not punished instead they are left to molest girls again and again. There is even less oversight in private sports organizations, some are even known to hire felons. The soccer fields are full of young girls, and there are coaches that love to prey upon them. There are schools hiring coaches despite knowing thier past.
Misconduct often goes unpunished.
North Carolina schools found that the No. 1 reason for dismissal of a coach — accounting for 1 in every 5 firings — was not a team’s poor performance on the field, but the coach’s sexual relationship with a student.
ESPN: Sex abuse pervasive in USA Swimming
Brooke Taflinger exposed this sex scandal. Her parents identified her from the videos. Their lives have forever been changed.
Brian Hindson of Kokomo, IN, was discovered to have secretly taped teenage girls he coached in two high school pool locker rooms. The perverted coach would even send the unsuspecting young teens into a "special" shower room where he had a hidden camera inside a locker. A woman in North Carolina, who had purchased his computer on EBay, found a video clip. It showed a girl in a locker room appearing to be filmed although she was not aware of it. The woman notified the FBI. The agents then searched Hindson’s home. There they discovered additional footage as well as a large selection of child pornography. Hindson has since been sentenced to 33 years in a federal prison.
One of his victims, Sarah Rutkowski, 21, expressed concern wondering where the videos ended up and how many there might be. She questions if they are on the internet or if Hindson just used them for his personal use. Rutkowski was filmed when she was 12 or 13 years old.
ESPN, along with ABC News reported this story and will air its own show on the swimming scandals May 2 on Outside the Lines.
Take time out today and speak to your children about inappropriate behavior by anyone in authority. The list in The Seattle Times is a good one and can be applied to teachers, pastors, coaches, and anyone who may have the opportunity to molest your child.
Never be afraid to do the right thing. The right thing is never easy. But you can stop a great wrong from being done, again and again and again.
One of the most important jobs a parent has is being your child’s PROTECTOR
Images from "A Rogue's Gallery of Swim Coaches" on ABC.com