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Monday, February 11, 2008

City plan would help screen coaches

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— Recreation Director William McCarthy says he wants to meet with representatives of all the city’s youth leagues to create a database to ensure volunteer coaches do not possess serious criminal records.
For the past several months, the city’s Park, Beach, and Recreation Commission has been discussing a plan to ensure there is a mechanism in place to screen volunteer coaches for youth programs.
“My belief is that it would benefit every youth organization to share information with everyone,” McCarthy said. “It would reduce duplication.”
McCarthy said he envisions creating a database that would keep records of anyone who applies for a volunteer coaching position. He said since some youth sport leagues perform background checks, it’s not necessary for those coaches who have been vetted to pay for the same service again.
“It’s a no-brainer. It will save the taxpayers and the coaches money,” McCarthy said.
He said he believes the background checks should cover three specific areas including whether someone is a convicted sex offender, or has been arrested for domestic violence or child abuse. He said a complete criminal background check that includes motor vehicle and civil offenses will cost $200, and isn’t realistic.
McCarthy said he believes he can get the cost down to $25 per person. He said he believes the new policy would affect about 200 people who would have to screened for 80 youth basketball teams.
The issue of criminal background checks surfaced in September after former youth coach Robert Dulin, 49, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The judge did not bar Dulin from volunteering or acting as a coach in any organization involving adolescent girls in the future.
Dulin, a former recreational league coach, engaged in a three-year illegal affair with a then-high school student whom he coached in a summer basketball camp. The affair began when the girl was 15-years-old.
Officials say they hope to have a final policy in place by the end of summer, including a company to perform the background checks.

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