Out of Scope: Gaps Found in Reporting and Tracking Problem Coaches


Note: This article contains sexual assault references that may be offensive to some readers. Discretion is recommended.

A new analysis from NBC 5 Investigates found that Illinois does not have a comprehensive system to track coaches who have been sanctioned, suspended, reprimanded or convicted of sexual abuse or misconduct.

This lack of oversight obscures our identification of a diverse network of at least 135 abusive coaches in the Chicago area since 2010.

Our extensive investigations are still ongoing, combing through criminal cases, teacher dismissals, and disciplinary records of sports organizations. But with no means to exhaustively check which coaches are safe, athletes and parents are left with a piecemeal system at best.

Further problems can arise if a background check is not required for a coaching position, or if the required background checks are not properly handled by schools and other organizations.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a former Chicago charter high school basketball player accuses her former coach of repeatedly sexually abusing her when she was 17. And her school Regal Her prep Her charter Her academy delayed and ignored her background check that would have disqualified the coach from her job claimed that it could not.

“I had to listen to him and respect him,” said the former player, who agreed to go by the name Jane.

Jane’s lawsuit alleges that coach Jamel Helea-Jones was hired by Legal Prep in the fall of 2017 and was later promoted to dean. claimed.

“I was angry and uncomfortable when he exposed himself to me,” said Jane. [the idea] would you do that? ”

A new analysis by NBC 5 Investigates found that Illinois lacks a comprehensive system for tracking coaches who have been sanctioned, suspended, reprimanded or convicted of sexual abuse or misconduct, NBC said. 5, reports Alex Maragos.

According to the lawsuit, Helaire-Jones tried to grab Jane’s breasts twice. she kissed her He asked her to perform oral sex. She sent her some explicit text messages. She sexually assaulted her in the gym.

According to another lawsuit filed by another former Legal Prep student, Helea Jones died in late 2018 after texts sent to Jane and other students were discovered by a parent, then an administrator, and Chicago police. I was fired from Legal Prep.

In 2019, Cook County prosecutors charged Helaire-Jones with seven counts of criminal sexual assault in two Legal Prep cases. He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney declined to speak to NBC 5 Investigates about the criminal charges and the civil lawsuit.Legal Prep also declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

According to Jane’s lawsuit, all of this questionable conduct was driven by her skills as a basketball player and a seemingly normal interest in her private life. I explained my comments. According to the complaint, they were all an attempt by Helea Jones to gain Jane’s trust.

Yao Dinizul, Jane’s attorney, said, “Some of these things are things that a good professor, a good teacher, or a good coach might do, but they don’t do bad things or harm children. It is something that those who wish to add should also do.

Coaches can spend hours outside of school with athletes, easily blurring the lines of normal interest and attention into a student’s life and crossing them into something dangerous.

RAINN defines boundaries to bring about grooming, which it defines as “manipulative behaviors abusers use to access potential victims, coerce them into consenting to abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.” can push. Experts interviewed by NBC 5 say coaching offers a special opportunity for grooming.

Dinizul’s lawsuit, filed on Jane’s behalf, said Legal Prep could have prevented what happened to Jane.

Dinizulu said Helaire-Jones’ background check was not conducted until more than two months after he was hired in October 2017.

“The background check showed a disturbing problem of attempted kidnapping. [and] It’s an attempted sexual assault,” Dinizul said.

Helaire-Jones was ultimately not convicted of these charges, but the Chicago Board of Education decided they were troublesome enough.”[warn] Legal preparations not to hire Helaire-Jones,” according to the committee filed in Jane’s lawsuit.

“I don’t think anyone would suggest that someone with this kind of background should be hired to work around children,” Dinizul said.

For weeks, NBC 5 Investigates has been following cases of local coaches like Helaire-Jones who have been reliably accused or convicted of sexual misconduct.

This process is not simple and that is part of the problem. We have searched various sources. criminal cases; civil litigation; teacher dismissal proceedings; revocation of teaching licenses by state boards of education; “Ban” and “Ineligible” lists issued.and lists issued by the Olympic sanctioning bodies of individual sports in the United States

In all, NBC5 Investigates collected records on nearly 250 coaches, examining the histories of coaches ranging from Little League and youth sports to public and private school coaches to college and professional coaches. I keep doing it. level. Most are in the nearby Chicago area. Others are in downstate Illinois or Indiana. Most people have been reliably accused or convicted of sexual abuse since 2010. Others were previously accused or convicted.

Whether these coaches are fired, placed on state sex offender lists, or legally prosecuted depends on the details of each case.

Helaire-Jones’ past behavior was revealed in a background check, according to the Chicago Board of Education. Problems experienced by athletes and parents in this complex monitoring and surveillance system include: What if the previous issue is below the level shown in the background check?

Another issue is: Of the dozens of local coaches arrested and convicted of sexual abuse or assault NBC5 Investigates has found so far, more than 40 are not on the state’s sex offender register . In some cases, it’s because coaches ended up signing contracts that didn’t force them to register as sex offenders, sue lesser charges for disorderly conduct and battery. of an already flawed system of accountability.

“You can’t reliably track the same behavior in a distinct way that I’m aware of.[s] Across the board,” said Carey Ward, CEO of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA).

ICASA is part of the 2018 Illinois Task Force, established to consider ways to better protect young athletes. The group was convened in part because of Dr. Larry Nassar’s repeated sexual abuse of Team USA gymnasts.

Ward believes that improvements are needed in the areas of prevention and reporting, and some coaches in particular, both good and bad, have worked in public schools, private schools, volunteer roles, and private schools throughout their careers. We are considering moving between facilities.

“I don’t want to assume that just because someone has hurt someone in the past, they won’t do it again,” Ward said. “In fact, what we do know is that there is a high recidivism rate related to sexual violence. will – it will not bring it down.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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