A longtime swimming trainer working for the YMCA swim team in Somerville, New Jersey, has been dismissed after Y officials discovered he was convicted 17 years ago for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old. Joe Weber pleaded guilty in August 1995 amid allegations he engaged in a sexual relationship with the young woman he was coaching at a school near Philadelphia the previous year. At the time, Weber was 28 years old. According to a statement released by the Somerset Valley YMCA CEO Paul Kieltyka, the parents of those on the swim team have been informed of Weber’s dismissal.
Kieltyka said the decision to let Weber go was “very easy” and that “protecting our kids and their safety” is the organization’s top priority. He also said that Weber’s past is “not in sync with” their “values” or beliefs. There was no comment from Kieltyka on why the conviction was overlooked during the process of the customary background checks performed on new hires when Weber was hired six years ago. He did say however, that a decision was made not to renew the contract for Weber after consulting with the branch’s staff leaders and volunteers. Of the decision, Kieltyka said that regardless of how long ago the conviction occurred, a vendor such as Weber was not “consistent with the kind of people we want around our kids.”
Weber was working for the Y through a business called Mindsport, a firm specializing in mental and physical wellness. Weber has served as the head of that firm since 2003, according to his LinkedIn account. Weber has also recently conducted a swim training program for area teen swimmers during the 2010-2011 school year, and was providing “mental and physical advice” to the young swimmers according to a past article regarding the program. There is no indication whether or not the Somerset Valley YMCA will be reviewing or strengthening their background check policies due to this incident.
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Author: Michael Klazema