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Published: Sunday, 12/11/2011

AAU probes child-abuse claims

Allegations arise against youth sports group's former president

REUTERS

NASHVILLE -- The Amateur Athletic Union, one of the nation's largest youth sports groups, said Saturday it is investigating allegations of child sex abuse made against former President Robert W. "Bobby" Dodd.

Acting AAU President Louis Stout said the group had become aware of "serious allegations" about Mr. Dodd dating back several decades and it has contacted law-enforcement officials in Memphis about the allegations.

"We have begun an independent internal investigation and review of our protocols, procedures, and policies," Mr. Stout said. "While we believe our network of programs has significant safeguards in place, we will never be complacent about doing all we can to protect the young people in our programs."

Memphis police said Friday they have opened an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Mr. Dodd.

Police said they were contacted by the AAU regarding accusations of abuse "which occurred in Memphis, Tenn., approximately 30 years ago," police Sgt. Alyssa Macon-Moore said.

The accusations against Mr. Dodd follow recent allegations of sexual abuse of boys by assistants to high profile coaches at Penn State and Syracuse universities.

The allegations against the AAU official surfaced when two accusers told sports network ESPN that Mr. Dodd, 63, had engaged in a pattern of inappropriate touching and sex acts while they stayed in hotels during tournaments and that he gave alcohol to underage players, the network reported.

The players making accusations against Mr. Dodd said they were abused between the ages of 12 and 16, ESPN reported.

Mr. Dodd has not been charged with a crime. He was not available for comment.

The AAU emphasized Mr. Dodd is no longer president and executive director of the organization and it has no continuing contact with him.

Mr. Stout said Mr. Dodd has been dealing with "serious" health issues related to his treatment for colon cancer.

Mr. Stout, who is the AAU's first vice president, is stepping in as interim president.

ESPN reported that the organization said it had contacted Memphis police after learning about the allegations on the sports network's Outside the Lines news program.

"The Memphis Police Department takes allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously," Memphis Police Director Toney Hamilton said.

"Although this case has its challenges due to the amount of time that has passed, it will be thoroughly examined; and if the investigation reveals the law was violated, the person responsible will be held accountable," he added.

The sports network said one of the former players had been contacted by a Memphis police detective.

One alleged victim, who spoke anonymously, accused Mr. Dodd of drugging him when he was a youth and offering him $1,000 if he would agree to oral sex while he was bound and blindfolded.

They also said they saw hundreds of pictures in his filing cabinet depicting the clothed backsides and crotches of players and bags filled with dozens of pairs of boys underwear, ESPN reported.

Once the Memphis Police's investigation is completed, the Shelby County District Attorney General's office special victims unit will review the facts and assist Memphis police in determining whether criminal charges are warranted, according to Vince Higgins, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

The AAU, one of the biggest nonprofit volunteer sports organizations in the country, is dedicated to promoting and developing amateur sports and physical fitness programs for athletes of all ages, according to the group's Web site.



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