KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Rep. Doug Richey, who represents Excelsior Springs, pre-filed legislation he says will better protect Missouri kids from predatory coaches.
Last month, the KSHB 41 I-Team revealed the Missouri State High School Activities Association, or MSHSAA, isn't a mandatory reporter.
It's an issue that hit home for a Liberty family, after they say their daughter Emilyn's coach sent the high school senior inappropriate messages.
That coach was never charged, but was forced to resign.
At the time, the family had reported the case to MSHSAA employees.
However, they were shocked when the I-Team told them MSHSAA employees aren’t obligated to notify police.
Richey, was also shocked.
His bill, HB 1955, is a three-pronged approach.
First, his bill would require MSHSAA employees to be mandatory reporters.
That way, if a parent is reluctant to contact the school because maybe their child's coach and the athletic director or principal are friends, they can go to a higher governing body and make sure their claim is dealt with appropriately.
Second, the bill would require schools to enter coaches' information into a new statewide database, tracking their employment history.
Then, any Missouri school looking to hire a school would be required to check that registry and contact all previous employers.
Richey said that would help track coaches who've faced credible accusations that fell short of being criminal, meaning they were never officially charged or registered as sex offenders.
"Sometimes, what ends up happening, [is that] coaches when they know that they’ve got some issues in the background, they won’t report that they actually coached at a district," Richey said.
Finally, Richey is adding school districts to another bill to protect them from civil action for reporting credible allegations of abuse.
That would allow school districts, along with nonprofits and religious organizations, to be more honest when a prospective employer calls for a background check.
"Employment laws are very specific, and most employers today are simply going to say hire date departure date and the scope of responsibility and that’s it,” he said.
Richey said he's optimistic these measures will receive bipartisan support.
As for Emilyn, the former high school basketball player we profiled in our original story, Richey was inspired by her courage coming forward.
As a result, he plans on naming this “Emilyn's bill” after her.