Fighting sex abuse in Olympic sports a difficult task

first_imgThe U.S. Equestrian Federation, which oversees the sport at the Olympic level, requires about 2,400 people to undergo background checks, though the vast majority of those are on the administrative side of the sport. The list does not include trainers and coaches who work with horses and their riders because they are considered independent contractors. According to government statistics , there are approximately 2 million horse owners in the United States; 7 percent of those (around 140,000) are considered professional trainers, though that number is split among many segments, including racing and show horses.“We’re encouraging (federations) that if they have something like that where the membership is limited, we would want them to broaden” the number of people subjected to background checks, said Dan Hill, the spokesman for the U.S. Center for SafeSport.USEF is working on it. Spokesman Julian McPeak said the federation “does not have a program where it recognizes or certifies coaches or trainers,” but it is proposing changes that would bring them into the vetting process.The most horrific sex-abuse cases in the sport’s history involved arguably the sport’s most renowned trainer.In 2016, the name “Jimmy A. Williams” was stripped from USEF’s lifetime achievement trophy after dozens of allegations surfaced accusing the renowned trainer of multiple cases of sexual misconduct. Williams died in 1993 at age 76. Industry magazine The Chronicle of the Horse and the New York Times ran stories featuring dozens of interviews from Williams’ victims, who all described being kissed, groped and worse, often in the aisles between the barn stalls.One of the victims, two-time Olympic silver medalist Anne Kursinski, did not respond to messages left by AP. But she is in a video on the USEF website supporting a change in the bylaws that would mandate trainers and coaches are included in the federation’s SafeSport program.USEF’s decision to strip Williams’ name from its most prestigious award came more than two years after the federation bolstered its SafeSport policies in the wake of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s call for top-to-bottom overhauls of sex abuse policies for all sports organizations that fell under its umbrella.That mandate exposed other issues.Though the vast majority of athletes who make up the membership in Olympic sports organizations will never come close to making the Games, the USOC has oversight over all of them and decided all the federations must operate under essentially the same rules. Given the vast differences in the budgets and experience of the staffs of the 49 NGBs with ties to the Olympics, the implementation of those rules varied by sport.The USOC’s ultimate goal was the 2017 opening of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which serves as a clearinghouse for athletes, coaches and parents to report suspected abuse. It also acts as an investigative entity that metes out suspensions and other punishment for those who break the rules, thus taking the decisions away from the sports organizations that sometimes lack institutional knowledge to deal with such issues — and often are rife with conflicts of interest. Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ LATEST STORIES Peza offers relief to ecozone firms But the Center for SafeSport finds itself policing much more than only those on the Olympic career path.For instance, USEF oversees 29 breeds and disciplines in the horse-show world, only four of which are on the Olympic or Paralympic program. U.S. Sailing and the U.S. Tennis Association are other examples of NGBs with similar makeups — only a small portion of their activities are geared toward Olympic competition.Meanwhile, the SafeSport center received 20 to 30 calls per month when it opened in March 2017, and though that number has grown to 20 to 30 calls per week in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the Nassar scandal, the center has only 17 full-time employees. Only four of those are full-time investigators, along with eight more investigators who work on a contract basis.It helps explain how some cases slip through the cracks, while a case such as Bielefeld’s was fairly easy to identify despite being resolved for more than five years. He had a well-known criminal past and was part of a tight-knit sport with an active blogging community — ingredients that made him easy to find.The U.S. Center for SafeSport was alerted to Bielefeld’s five-year-old case and placed him on interim suspension while it investigated. That word was passed onto USEF, which contacted the horse show, where organizers removed Bielefeld from his judging post.His name was on the interim banned lists of both the SafeSport center and the USEF for around a month before it disappeared in mid-June. The USEF explained that an arbitrator agreed to remove Bielefeld’s name from the interim lists after a hearing, but the matter is still open pending a final determination by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.Though officials at the SafeSport center would not discuss specific cases, they insisted there’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution.“There’s an expectation from the public, from parents and from the sports community that athletes are going to be protected,” Hill said. “If there’s a conviction five years ago, and something were to happen again, people would be saying ‘How come someone with a conviction is allowed to be in this environment and have authority over individuals?’ And in a way, a judge does.’” Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Had he been at the show in a Philadelphia suburb working as a trainer, however, his case may have never been discovered. While judges in the horse-show world receive maximum scrutiny in an effort to protect athletes from sex abuse, the federation that oversees the sport on the Olympic level does not apply the same standards to the vast majority of the sport’s trainers and coaches — the individuals who have the most day-to-day contact with the riders.The case involving the judge, Robert Bielefeld, offers an eye-opening window into some of the difficulties and unintended consequences presented by the U.S. Olympic movement’s mission to combat sex-abuse within its ranks. It’s a mission that took on more urgency after a sex-abuse scandal rocked USA Swimming in 2010, then metastasized into headline news in the wake of physician Larry Nassar’s abuse of nearly 300 gymnasts, including some on the U.S. Olympic team.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’The mission has also added immense pressure to administrators in dozens of niche sports, many of whom are experts in their field but don’t have the skills to craft sex-abuse-prevention policies that can have life-changing impact on victims and those who are accused.“Upset. Disappointed,” Devon Horse Show manager David Distler said of Bielefeld’s reaction over his ouster from the renowned event over Memorial Day. “He thought it was done, finished, and it just kind of came up again out of nowhere.” Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, to play basketball at UCLA Gov’t in no rush to rescue animals in Taal View comments Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ FILE – In this May 23, 2018 file photo U.S. Center for SafeSport President and CEO Shellie Pfohl testifies before the House Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee about the Olympic community’s ability to protect athletes from sexual abuse, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The center, which opened in March 2017, has received 20 to 30 calls a week to report sex abuse in Olympic sports and is wrestling with the influx of cases on a limited budget. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)Judges, event organizers and even some riders were caught off-guard earlier this year when a well-known equestrian judge got booted out of one of the year’s biggest horse shows.Turns out, the judge’s name had been flagged by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the newly created office charged with overseeing sex-abuse cases in Olympic sports, because he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sex assault five years earlier, in a case that had nothing to do with minors or anyone in his sport.ADVERTISEMENT Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil After winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins Bielefeld did not respond to several requests from The Associated Press, made via telephone, email and social media, to comment for this story.According to court records, in April of 2013, Bielefeld called a male worker at a hotel in Lexington, Virginia, into his room to fix his TV, pushed him onto the bed, exposed himself and began masturbating.The worker escaped the room and told his manager, who urged him to call police. Within a few hours, Bielefeld was in jail. Shortly after that, he pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor assault and one count of attempted sexual battery. He received a six-month suspended jail sentence, 12 months of probation and was ordered to pay fines.Once the probation was complete, the case was closed, and Bielefeld was free to resume his role as an equestrian judge — a job that didn’t put him in direct contact with riders or minors.In a twist that illustrates the confusion surrounding the new policies, Bielefeld also works as a trainer out of a horse farm in Florida. But had he not also been a judge, this case — and his suspension — might not have resurfaced.ADVERTISEMENT Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player awardlast_img read more

Fancy winning a €50,000 investment for your business?

first_imgThe countywide search to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE), was launched this week by Local Enterprise Office, Donegal County Council. The competition is open to entrepreneurs aged 18 – 35, who have a business idea or already operate a new or established business.With a €2 million investment fund available, including a €50,000 investment fund for Donegal, the enterprise initiative from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland attracted 1,400 applications across the country last year and supported over 450 young entrepreneurs through training, mentoring and direct financial assistance.Co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices, the initiative begins with a nationwide competition across three categories at county level: Best Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business. Around 450 applicants, across each county, will be invited to attend regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ in November, to help them develop their business and new venture ideas. Following the boot-camp, three Donegal finalists will be selected to represent the county in the regional finals in early 2017. Aisling Cunningham from Carndonagh won the Best Established Business category in last year’s competition for her company Powder ‘N’ Pout. She says the competition really benefitted her business and would encourage other young entrepreneurs to apply: “The advice and support I received after entering IBYE was fantastic.The Donegal Local Enterprise Office really pointed me in the right direction and put me in contact with the people I needed to talk to, which helped a great deal. This competition is perfect for anyone who has a good business idea and wants to take it to the next level.”Adding to this Ursula Donnelly, Deputy Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office, Donegal County Council said: “The search is on to find Donegal’s best young entrepreneurs and almost any young person with a business idea can enter this competition. It doesn’t matter what your background is; whether you have been to University and researched a business idea, or have always wanted to be your own boss, improve your existing business or return home and set up your business in Ireland. If you are aged between 18 and 35 with an outstanding idea or commercial venture for a start-up or existing business, then IBYE is the competition for you”.“The Local Enterprise Office Donegal is about supporting fresh and innovative ideas, so our advice for anyone thinking of getting involved in this year’s competition is to take the first step on your entrepreneurial journey by getting in touch with us today” she added.IBYE is open to individuals, venture teams, partnerships, existing businesses with new ideas and people living overseas who want to base their headquarters in Ireland. Applying is simple, with no entry fee, and through the total investment fund, Local Enterprise Office, Donegal County Council will award six investment prizes to three category winners and three runners-up, before the Regional Finals early next year.Pictured are last year’s IBYE finalists from across the countyThe Donegal winners in the Best Start-Up and Best Established Business categories will receive €15,000 each and the two runners-up will each receive €5,000. The Best Business Idea winner locally will receive an investment prize of €7,000 and the runner-up will receive €3,000.The deadline to apply for this year’s competition is Friday, 14th October 2016. For more information or to enter, visit www.localenterprise.ie/donegal or www.ibye.ie.Local Enterprise Office Donegal is supported through co-funding from the Irish Government and the European Regional Development Fund 2014 – 2020. Fancy winning a €50,000 investment for your business? was last modified: August 31st, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:BusinessideainvestmentIreland’s Best Young EntrepreneurLocal EnterprisemoneyStart-uplast_img read more