We have discussed before how a recent and unfortunate appellate decision in California is slowing down or preventing criminal background checks for employment and tenancy (here and here), much to the detriment to public safety in the Golden State. Sadly, lives are literally in the balance when an employer or a landlord is prevented from looking at the criminal past of a job or an apartment application. Past may be prologue.
West Valley, California lies southwest of San Jose and it is where “Emanuele Fabrizio should never have been allowed to coach this victim or anyone else,” said Kelly Raftery, an attorney who represented Jane Doe, a 13-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by her soccer coach./1/ According to news accounts, “Emanuele ‘Manny’ Fabrizio, [age 36] a former PayPal engineer and coach for the West Valley Youth Soccer League was sentenced to 15 years in state prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old victim…” This abuse could have been prevented, but for the soccer association’s “failure to require or conduct criminal background checks.” Fabrizio lied on his volunteer application when he was asked if he had a criminal past. In fact, Fabrizio had a prior conviction for domestic violence./2/
The tragedy that occurred at Fabrizio’s hands was not an isolated incident in West Valley. This is also where Thomas Anderson, “[a] 76-year-old former South Bay youth soccer coach pleaded guilty…to felony charges of molesting two young boys and will spend at least 15 years in prison as part of a deal with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.”/3/. “In 2009, Thomas Anderson, the founder of West Valley and a member of the Cal North Hall of Fame was charged in Santa Clara County with multiple felony child molestation offenses arising from incidents with two 11-year-old boys. Anderson had been a coach, volunteer, and referee for local US Youth activities until at least 1998. West Valley was unaware of Anderson’s prior misdemeanor convictions of child sexual abuse from the mid-1990’s, because it did not conduct criminal background checks.”/4/
/1/ Ernst, Anne, Youth Soccer Coach Sentenced to 15 Years for Sexual Child Abuse, Patch, Oct. 17, 2012.
/2/ Doe v. United States Youth Soccer Ass’n., 8 Cal. App. 5th 1118, 1126, 214 Cal. Rptr. 3d 552, 562 (2017).
/3/ Gomez, Mark, Former South Bay youth soccer coach pleads guilty to molest charges, East Bay Times, April 29, 2010.
/4/ Doe v. United States Youth Soccer Ass’n., 8 Cal. App. 5th 1118, 1126, 214 Cal. Rptr. 3d 552, 562 (2017).
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More