Independent task forces will investigate AAU

Attorney Ron Book (from left), his daughter Lauren Book, founder of the anti-child abuse foundation Lauren's Kids; and Louis Stout, the president of the Amateur Athletic Union, speak at a news conference at AAU headquarters. Lauren Book will lead one of two independent investigations into AAU's child safety protocols.



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The new president of the Amateur Athletic Union said Wednesday that the organization will give complete access to two independent task forces established to review child safety protocols, policies and procedures in the wake of child sex abuse allegations against the AAU’s former president.

Memphis police are investigating decades-old child molestation allegations against ex-president Robert “Bobby” Dodd.

ESPN reported Friday that two former basketball players have accused Dodd of molesting them as children in the 1980s. One of the players, 43-year-old Ralph West, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that he was assaulted in Memphis in 1984.

AAU President Louis Stout said the group notified Memphis police Dec. 9 about three alleged victims after hiring a private investigator to look into anonymous e-mails and voicemail messages received by the AAU. Stout said the private investigator was hired sometime between Nov. 9 and Nov. 14.

“We’ve opened up every process to them,” he said. “We did exactly as we were asked to do.”

Memphis police said Monday that investigators are trying to follow up allegations that Dodd molested children, but they have not received a formal victim complaint.

Stout said the AAU has severed ties with the 63-year-old Dodd, with the exception of about $15,000 still owed him. No phone number was listed at a Florida address for Dodd. Dodd, who has colon cancer, did not respond to ESPN’s requests for comment.

Stout said the organization has never had any previous cases of child sex abuse, and he’s confident it acted decisively in turning over the allegations to police.

“It’s about trust. We’re here to redefine trust,” Stout said. “Were we caught off guard? Yes. Will we do everything we can to prevent another tragedy of this nature? You betcha.”

Stout said the task forces – one focused on youth protection and the other on adult volunteering screening – are expected to recommend any changes to AAU policies by February.

The AAU oversees about 30 sports programs for all ages nationwide, from major sports such as football, basketball and baseball to bocce ball, baton twirling and competitive jump rope. It says 500,000 athletes and 50,000 volunteers participate in its programs.

Asked whether the AAU has policies in place requiring background checks of employees, AAU national compliance chairman Henry Forrest said there is some random screening of AAU officials, but it’s not mandatory. Stout said the AAU doesn’t have authority over many of the groups that bring children to AAU events.