Questions arise over background checks after soccer coach is arrested

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - In the wake of a Lee's Summit soccer coach being arrested and charged with producing child pornography, many parents are wondering how they can be sure their child is safe.

The accused coach Joel D. White, 40, of Lee's Summit is accused in federal court documents of hiding a camera in a bedroom of his residence and videotaping young girls undressing.

Robert McQueen, vice president of fields with the Lee's Summit Soccer Association (LSSA), said White did pass two background checks.

"He passed the background check with the Missouri Department of Family Services, and he passed a more thorough background check through the USSA and the Missouri Youth Soccer Association, enabling White to be licensed as a carded coach," McQueen said.

But all background checks are not equal.  Darren DePriest, president of Validity Screening Solutions in Overland Park, said parents need to ask questions.

"They need to ask the organization or church or sporting activity what kind of background check is being done on volunteers," DuPriest said. "There are background checks that simply find out if the person has been a child abuser. And there are criminal background checks, but there are other background checks that go deeper into a person's past that can reveal information that may not be in a criminal history background check."

DuPriest said incidents like this are a wake-up call to organizations that deal with young people to make sure they are getting the right background checks on volunteers, staff and anyone dealing with young people.

"Many times the churches and civic organizations and businesses and sporting associations are blindly depending on the people doing background checks to do a thorough job. That's not always the case," DuPriest said. "Groups getting background checks need to know exactly what the company is checking for and where they are checking."

The LSSA started re-evaluating its background check policy – in an effort to upgraded – eight months ago, before this incident with White came to light.

That process will continue. The LSSA board has a meeting scheduled this weekend to discuss the safety of the 3,500 young people playing in the organization.

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