High School Basketball Coach Hired Despite History of Sexual Misconduct

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on January 7, 2022

Sports Expert WitnessThis case involves a former youth basketball coach who was hired by the defendant municipality to coach their intramural sports programs. Unbeknownst to the defendants, the coach had previously been fired and banned from an adjacent school district for molesting children, after which he had been recommended to a sex therapist who he never contacted. The defendant municipality did not conduct a thorough background check before hiring this individual. The plaintiff joined one of these teams, and over time he was sexually assaulted, abused, and molested. It was alleged that the municipality failed to perform basic diligence during the hiring of this coach, including a criminal background check, which would have revealed his prior convictions for sexual assault.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience supervising youth sports programs, specifically under the auspices of a municipal or public program.
  • 2. Can you speak to the proper background checking and diligence efforts that must be conducted when hiring new personnel to coach and spend many hours with children every day?

Expert Witness Response E-006735

I have been supervising youth sports programs for thirty years, from coaching and running camps to head coaching positions in all age brackets. I have sat on the boards of leagues and have been in charge of several major camp programs. I have run programs for community organizations as an independent contractor for centers like the Alpert Jewish Community Center, The City of Rolling Hills Parks and Recreation, and other similar community groups with summer programs. In my years as a camp director, head coach, and supervisor in charge of staffing at most of the programs that I ran, it was always my first responsibility to screen coaching candidates. The next step would be to run a series of background checks on potential employees. I can say that at every camp or event that I ran as a contractor, I was required to submit a background check authorization with every employee’s application. The applications varied, but all ran finger prints and checks with the Department of Justice. Most conducted a Megan’s Law search of the employee to determine if there had been any sexual misconduct. The practice of screening my own coaches was always the first thing I would do before hiring and running a camp either as a contractor, or on my own. A failure to do a background check can leave the client exposed to potential unknown dangers and as a business practice will protect the reputation of the camp or team organization.

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