At least one parent has pulled their child from an Indianapolis Little League team after learning that the team’s coach was involved in a drug bust in July of last year. The coach, Russell Pryor, was taken into custody as part of a sting against his motorcycle club. He later pled guilty to a felony charge related to drug trafficking based on recorded evidence that he had agreed to deliver pills to another club member.
Pryor was a well-known face in the local Little League. He had coached on various teams and helped with fundraising for years before the Lowell Little League team decided to allow him to serve as their coach.
According to Lowell Little League Board President Craig Messenger, the board did run a background check on Pryor before accepting him as their coach. The background check came back clean, perhaps because at the time it was run, Pryor’s plea deal had not yet resulted in a sentencing. Pryor is still awaiting sentencing, which is now scheduled for November 2013.
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The Lowell Little League board was certainly aware of Pryor’s situation at the time that they hired him. Messenger reported that the situation was discussed at a board meeting, and afterwards the board voted 6-1 to allow Pryor to coach.
Although some parents are concerned about Pryor’s criminal record and his involvement with the motorcycle club, the board did not violate any guidelines by hiring him. According to Little League Central Region Director Nina Johnson, local officials are solely responsible for their own coaching decisions. The only exception is that they may not hire individuals who have been convicted of or pled guilty to crimes specifically against a minor. Pryor’s conviction does not fall into this category, and the local board did not believe he posed any danger to children.
Messenger defended the board’s choice to hire Pryor on the grounds that Pryor has a long history in the community and has always been an active and supportive participant in Little League. Pryor’s lawyer mentioned that Pryor, who served as the club’s chaplain, was a very low-level club member and is expected to avoid prison time as a result of his plea deal.
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Author: Michael Klazema