Call to check coaches after child rape claims

Currently parents are exempt from the checks if they are involved with the team their child is on. Photo / Getty Images
Currently parents are exempt from the checks if they are involved with the team their child is on. Photo / Getty Images

Parents who manage and coach their child's soccer team should be subject to working-with-children checks, the child protection head of Football NSW said yesterday, a day after Australia's Royal Commission into child sexual abuse heard allegations of an 8-year-old girl being raped by her coach, sometimes while the man's wife was in the same room.

Currently parents are exempt from the checks if they are involved with the team their child is on, the Royal Commission has been told as part of an inquiry into how sporting organisations respond to allegations of sexual abuse of children.

Michelle Hanley, who has been the child protection officer with Football NSW for 16 years, said yesterday she would like to see the checks applied to everybody, including referees. She said referees and sports umpires mostly turn up for the game, walk on to the park, put their bag down, do their job, blow the whistle, pick their bag up and go home.

However, she added: "I don't think enough attention has been paid to the fact that these people sometimes go into change rooms, which is an isolated place."

The check was not a guarantee but it would identify people in the sport that have a previous charge or conviction and who are not appropriate to work with children or volunteer with children, she said.

Hanley said the case examined by the commission on Monday, in which a man who coached an under-10 girls' team allegedly sexually molested a number of them, was an example of someone who was coaching a team that included a relative.

Under current rules he would be exempt from working-with-children scrutiny.

The commission heard how an 8-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her soccer coach, sometimes while the man's wife was in the same room.

The girl was later diagnosed with HIV, which she claims she contracted from the coach of the team in southern Sydney.

The alleged victim, now 27, was too distressed to give evidence in person but her statement said her mother, who had a drinking and drug problem at the time, allowed her to stay at the coach's home after soccer, training, on weekends and during school holidays.

She said she did not tell her mother because she thought she would be blamed for causing trouble.

In March 2003, shortly before her 15th birthday, she was diagnosed with HIV.

Doctors told her that she probably had it for "quite a few years", she said.

But she had never had a boyfriend or a blood transfusion since the alleged rapes.

"I believe I got HIV from the coach," she said.

- news.com.au

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