Amateur Athletic Union moves to protect young athletes from sex abuse

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE | Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:45pm EDT

(Reuters) – The Amateur Athletic Union on Tuesday announced measures to protect young athletes from sexual abuse after allegations of abuse were raised last year against a former president of the nation’s largest youth sports organization.

The steps resulted from six months of study by two task forces.

They require all adults involved in AAU activities – from volunteer coaches to AAU staff – to undergo detailed background checks. This includes all current members of the staff or volunteers as well as those who come to the organization in the future.

“These new steps are not being implemented because we suspect anyone – rather, we must make these changes because we expect everyone to be willing to help us build a deeper trust and culture of safety,” AAU President Louis Stout said at a press conference from its headquarters in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The new policy says young athletes should never be left alone with individual adults, according to Ron Sachs, president of Sachs Communications, a spokesman for the AAU.

Under the new policy, “anyone who is prohibited from participating in an organization that serves youth or who violates the AAU’s child protection policies should be barred from participating in AAU activities, even if they have not been convicted of a crime.” Such individuals will not even be allowed to be spectators, Stout said.