A former child athlete, who was molested by his coach, sued the Black Hills Junior Football League (BHJFL) after evidence was uncovered of an inadequate background check. The “six-figure” settlement which was made outside of court in January, has made the league “happy with the resolution.”
The victim, whose coach was convicted of molesting him in 2009 when he was 12-years-old, claimed that the league was negligent in its hiring of his former coach, Derwin Pasley.Pasley was convicted in 2010 of the molestation of three boys and sentenced to 12 ½ years behind bars. Two of Pasley’s victims were former players whom he coached on the football team, and one was a 13-year-old that he ministered in a Washington church. Pasley had a suspicious history of sexual molestation allegations that should have been a red flag, barring him from any contact with children.
Since the time of Pasley’s 2009 arrest, three boys have come forward claiming that Pasley molested them. The lawsuit against BHJFL claims that the league was negligent in their background screening of Pasley due to his former indiscretions that should have been a factor in the screening process, had a proper one been conducted. Pasley was arrested in Florida in 1994 for suspicion of a felony sex offense against a child. In this case, Pasley was acquitted of two counts of sexual battery against a child. In 2002, Pasley spent time serving as a youth pastor at Risen Faith Fellowship church in Olympia where another boy accused Pasley of sexually molesting him. The accusations were brought to police who did not press further charges due to insufficient evidence at the time.
According to BHJFL’s attorney, the league “had no idea” about these past accusations against Pasley, despite the conducting of a criminal background check. The State of Washington does not allow disclosure of unfounded child abuse allegations to third parties. Therefore, Pasley’s 1994 acquittal would not have shown up on a criminal background check. Thaddeus Martin, attorney to the now 17-year-old victim who settled this case out of court said the league should have been required to conduct more than a background check to ensure the safety of its child athletes. Knowing that certain criminal accusations would not show up in a background screening process that only included a criminal background check, the league should have put proper policies and procedures in place to protect children from molesters. For example, if the league had put rules in place about coaches riding in cars alone with team members, then perhaps some of the molestations experienced by at least one of Pasley’s victims, would not have occurred. Although the league has since made changes to its policy, Martin remarked that, “It’s not a good idea to wait until there are victims to put something like that in place.”