Crosby-Helms has simple advice for parents of athletes: Trust no one.
"You have to act like every coach is a potential predator," said
Crosby-Helms, who was abused by basketball coach Tony Giles.
Many parents mistakenly trust that Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coaches
have undergone criminal checks. The AAU does not do them, but parents or
athletic associations can pay $10 to have the Washington State Patrol run
a coach's name through its felony-conviction database.
But these checks may give parents a false sense of security because the
State Patrol search will not pick up misdemeanor convictions and records
such as restraining orders.
For coaches who are also teachers, parents can file public-records requests
with schools or the OSPI to find out about sexual-misconduct complaints
that don't rise to the level of crimes but may be serious nonetheless.
It may take weeks to get records.
discipline files, send a request letter with the coach's name to: The
OSPI; Old Capitol Building; PO Box
47200; Olympia, WA 98504-7200.)
Lucy Berliner, a social worker with the Harborview Center for Sexual
Assault and Traumatic Stress, said that parents should watch out for
seem to show their daughter extra attention. While it might look like
the coach is singling out your talented daughter to help her, it may
be a sign
that he's grooming her.
"Don't let somebody have a private personal relationship with
your child when they're not in the family," she said.
And pay attention to clues, said Cori Logan, who was abused by her taekwondo
coach, Jonathan Novy. He got athletes so accustomed to the way he touched
them that they became desensitized. "He had a way of flirting with
people and he did it right in front of everyone," she said.
Berliner said charm is a predator's best tool because it makes parents
less likely to suspect him and victims less likely to be believed.
If parents have suspicions, they must take a stand — no matter how
difficult it may be to question the beloved coach, Crosby-Helms said.
"Kids will kick and scream and tell you they hate you," she said, "but
you have to say, 'I'm just trying to protect you.' "