Author Topic: Coaches SafeSport Suspension Is 14th Penalty For Sexual Misconduct  (Read 4085 times)


File photo of George Barrett

Six of 14 Massachusetts cases were tried by USA Hockey before Congress established SafeSport in 2017 to punish sexual misconduct in Olympic sports. USA Hockey forwarded those cases to SafeSport, who ran them out. placed public disciplinary database.

Barrett, 51, of Westminster, was found to have made sexual contact, advances and sexual comments with the young woman while he was coaching her through SafeSport, beginning in 2017 when he was 48 and she was 18.

Barrett declined to be interviewed by SafeSport researchers. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

The athlete he allegedly assaulted took part in the Lady Crusaders program of the New England Girls Hockey League for a short time. Barrett then began coaching her privately at his personal training company SweedHands.

In 2019, the young woman received a restraining order against Barrett after she claimed in an affidavit that he digitally penetrated her through her clothing, also sexually harassed her, and made numerous requests for sexual favors. In addition, according to the alleged victim and SafeSports’ findings, he sent her pictures of his genitals.

Screenshot of NJ Times article photo sent to player

A screenshot, (above) of a Paterson (NJ) Times web page showing the photo of a body bag that George Barrett sent to the hockey player. She also claimed in the court document that after their relationship deteriorated, Barrett sent her threatening messages, including an image of a body bag, telling her he could make someone’s death look like suicide. She stated that she feared for her safety.

The Worcester District Attorney’s office chose not to prosecute Barrett, much to the chagrin of the young woman and her parents. The alleged victim and her family said the police and the prosecution had indicated to them that they did not believe they had sufficient evidence to proceed.

Barrett sold the Lady Crusaders organization to the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center in 2019, after the woman filed the SafeSport complaint against him and received the restraining order. The new owners have renamed the program the White Hawks.

USA Hockey published a story in 2016 praising Barrett for creating opportunities for girls in Central Massachusetts to play the sport competitively. Now he is banned from participating in any Olympic sport for a year.

SafeSport also ordered Barrett to serve three years of probation after his one-year suspension and to have no contact with his alleged victim for four years.

The woman thought the SafeSports punishment was too mild.

Frankly, it’s on their moral compass if he goes out and assaults another young girl. The system is corrupt, she said.

She criticized SafeSport for allowing Barrett to continue coaching, under adult supervision, while under investigation, even though I had a restraining order against him for sexually harassing me.

SafeSport records indicate that Barrett had no history of wrongdoing and no one else has brought charges against him.

It’s on their moral compass if he goes out and assaults another young girl. The system is corrupt.

Dan Hill, a spokesperson for SafeSport, said: A suspension of any kind sends a message and it is something the Center takes seriously. . . If there are reports of a person who has been previously suspended, the Center will also take them seriously.”

In total, the SafeSports database contains sanctions against more than 1,500 individuals in the United States, including 43 in Massachusetts. The other Olympic sports in the state with the most disciplined people are USA Swimming (9), US Soccer (5), USA Gymnastics (4) and US Equestrian (4).

Mass Hockey is one of the larger youth sports organizations in the state associated with the Olympic movement, typically employing more than 55,000 players, coaches, and officials. However, the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association, for example, which is affiliated with the US Soccers national governing body, has about 163,000 registered and affiliated players and adult participants. And the five individuals involved in youth soccer disciplined by SafeSport had ties to programs other than Massachusetts Youth Soccer. Other major youth sports organizations in the state, such as basketball, are not fully affiliated with Olympic governing bodies.

SafeSport’s disciplinary list does not include former Duxbury High boy hockey coach John Blake, who was fired in April after being charged in a civil suit with repeatedly raping a male high school student in 2006.

Mass Hockey has summarily suspended Blake and forwarded his case to SafeSport. Blake denies the allegation.

Blake’s alleged high school victim, Parker Foley, developed a drug addiction to escape the mental pain and anxiety, his parents stated in a lawsuit against Blake and the Duxbury Public Schools. Foley died of a drug overdose last year at the age of 27.

The SafeSports list also doesn’t include Carl Gray, who founded the Assabet Valley girls’ hockey program and was accused by numerous former players in Globe stories in 2020 of making rude comments about their bodies, initiating unwanted physical contact, and entering their locker rooms without notice.

A former player, Estey Ticknor, told the Globe that Gray began a sexual relationship with her while coaching her in 1981 when she was 17 and he was 43. She reported the allegation to SafeSport, who informed her in October after a preliminary investigation that it could not proceed because the alleged misconduct occurred while there were no applicable community standards. [law], US Hockey Policy or SafeSport Policy.

Gray has denied mistreating his former players. About Ticknor he only said: We were best friends. I respected who she was.

USA Hockey last August assigned a five-member commission of inquiry to investigate complaints from Ticknor and the parents of former Assabet players about Mass Hockey’s handling of charges against Gray and other Assabet coaches.

The investigation is still ongoing and is expected to be completed this summer, USA hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said. He said the process has been delayed by committee members who contracted COVID-19.

Several parents who filed complaints called the delay unacceptable.

We expected action, there was none; we expected follow-up, there was none; we expected communication, there wasn’t,” said Fred Isbell, a former Assabet coach whose daughter, Katie, told the Globe last year that Gray had made unwanted physical contact with her and made sexually charged comments about her appearance.

The violators on SafeSports’ disciplinary list include Andrew LeColst, a former ice hockey coach at Masconomet Regional High School who also owned a youth hockey club. LeColst pleaded guilty in 2020 to three counts of raping a girl he coached, starting when she was 13.

Also in 2018, Christopher Prew, who ran the Hot Shot hockey academy in Winthrop, was sanctioned and has been charged nine times in the Essex High Court for indecent assault and violence against boys under the age of 14. Prew has pleaded not guilty.

A youth hockey referee was also disciplined. Brendan Kessler, of Plymouth, was sentenced to 63 months in prison in 2015 for possession and distribution of child pornography.

All other Massachusetts hockey figures on the SafeSport list are coaches, except for a former Braintree High School player who pleaded guilty in 2002 to raping a 15-year-old girl.

Because SafeSport does not provide details about the alleged sexual misconduct of disciplined individuals, information about their affairs is generally drawn from news reports. The SafeSports database also does not disclose the damage to the alleged victims.

For example, the database only states that Robert Richardson, of Dorchester, was permanently banned from hockey activity in the US in 2019 for sexual misconduct. SafeSport has disciplined Richardson after a 2017 Globe story described the emotional trauma suffered by a former professional hockey player, David Gove, after Richardson allegedly raped him repeatedly in his youth.

Gove’s family and Suffolk County prosecutors said Gove, who won the 2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes, never escaped fear of the alleged sexual abuse.

Like Parker Foley, Gove struggled with a drug addiction. He died of an overdose in 2017 at the age of 38.
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