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Missouri Rep. Doug Richey pre-files bill that would make MSHSAA employees mandatory reporters

Doug Richey
Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 17:01:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — A KSHB 41 I-Team investigation prompted a Missouri state representative to pre-file a bill Thursday that would make employees of the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) mandatory reporters.

Rep. Doug Richeytook this action in response to a 2021 I-Team investigation that revealed MSHSAA employees were not required to report allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement.

The Clay County Republican filed a similar bill last year, but the measure designed to protect Missouri students from predatory coaches stalled late in the session.

Richey’s bill would also require school districts to enter coaches’ information into a new statewide database that would track their employment history. School districts would then be required to check that registry for allegations of misconduct and call all previous employees before hiring a coach.

Earlier this year, Kansas lawmakers passed legislation to make employees of the state’s high school activities association mandatory reporters. Rep. Kristey Williams of Augusta introduced the measure after seeing the I-Team’s investigation.

Gov. Kelly signed the bill into law in May.

Concerns about predatory coaches hit close to home for a Liberty family, who told the I-Team their daughter’s basketball coach sent her inappropriate messages.

Prosecutors never charged the coach, who was forced to resign. He passed away in 2021.

After the incident happened in 2017, Emilyn Richardson and her parents said they reported the case to MSHSAA employees. They were shocked when the I-Team told them employees of that organization — the governing body for everything from high school basketball to debate — was not required to notify police.

Emilyn applauded Richey’s action Thursday.

“This bill brings me excitement and a heart filled with a lot of emotions,” she told the I-Team. “This bill was made so that other student-athletes never have to go what I went through my senior year with my basketball coach. To all student-athletes who have experienced what I went through, I want you to know that you’re not alone.”

Emilyn also thanked Richey for his continued efforts to address this issue.

“Until this bill is passed, student-athletes are at risk of harassment or abuse by predatory coaches,” she said. “Rep. Richey, thank you for being my voice with Missouri lawmakers.”

Richey told the I-Team in 2021 that he was shocked MSHSAA employees were not mandatory reporters. He vowed to introduce legislation that would not only address that problem but create a system to prevent predatory coaches from falling between the cracks.

He said a coaches’ database would track individuals who’ve faced credible accusations but were never charged criminally.

"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 told the I-Team in 2021.

Richey said he's optimistic his bill will receive bipartisan support in the 2023 session.

The Missouri General Assembly reconvenes Jan. 4, 2023, and all pre-filed bills are introduced that day.