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Connecticut Legislative Committee Explains Potential New Direction for Preventing Youth Abuse

A series of sexual abuse allegations against teachers and youth athletics coaches in Connecticut has state legislators calling for legal reforms to protect kids and teens

The legislator leading the charge is Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire), a state representative and co-chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Committee on Children. Linehan argued that the state is doing “not nearly enough” to curb the abuse of children in schools or youth sports. She’s also said that strong employee and volunteer background checks, while a good prevention method, are “certainly not going to weed out all” potential abusers, leading to the need for more aggressive strategies.

Linehan wants harsher punishments for individuals who have been convicted of abuse, including longer prison sentences and more extensive supervision requirements when they get out of prison. Supporters claim that such protections would help keep known abusers out of the system and remove some of the burden that employers bear in determining whether prospective teachers, coaches, or volunteers are safe hires.

Linehan mentioned other practices that might encourage individuals to speak up about abuse if they witness or experience it. 

One prong of the approach is education geared toward helping children, parents, teachers, school administrators, and other stakeholders recognize signs of abuse. Another prong is targeting individuals who are required by law to report abuse issues if they spot them. For instance, if an assistant coach noticed a head coach abusing a child—or had reason to believe that abuse was taking place—that individual would be a “mandated reporter” with an ethical and legal responsibility to report the abuse to the proper authorities. Linehan wants to target mandated reporters who stay silent by lengthening statutes of limitations that would allow the state more leeway in prosecuting those individuals. 

Linehan and the Committee on Children are discussing legislative overhaul in part because of several recent allegations and arrests related to misconduct that have occurred in Connecticut.

In one case, a teacher at Rockville High School in Vernon, Connecticut is facing child pornography and voyeurism charges. The teacher, Christian Stevenson, allegedly took photos of multiple female students at the school and had child pornography images on his digital devices.

In another case, a high school football coach in Montville, Tanner Grover, is on a leave of absence due to an ongoing Connecticut State Police and Department of Children and Families investigation. So far, Grover is not facing any criminal charges and has not been arrested.

A third case involves the Hartford-based Amateur Athletic Union basketball program, which is spearheaded by Bria Holmes, a professional WNBA player. The FBI is investigating Danny Lawhorn–Holmes’ boyfriend and a coach with the program–over allegations that he sexually assaulted at least three girls involved in the program.

Finally, a fourth case has resulted in the arrest of Craig McCue, a former social studies teacher at Plainfield Central School. According to the CT Insider, police say that the teacher “received shirtless photos” of three boys at his school and “provided them with marijuana.” Two of the boys allege that McCue touched them inappropriately. 

Police warrants note that McCue previously worked for (and was fired from) Wheeler High School in North Stonington, where he coached boys’ basketball. Per CT Insider, McCue “allegedly admitted to buying condoms for four juvenile male students after a basketball game” while working at Wheeler.

At backgroundchecks.com, we understand the importance of protecting young and vulnerable students and athletes. We regularly work with schools, youth sporting organizations, and other entities to provide youth sports background screening services, teacher background checks, and volunteer background checks. To learn more about why coaches background checks are important, or to find out which background screening services we can provide for youth-serving organizations, contact us today.

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.

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