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‘Everyone knew his past’: how a coach stayed in soccer despite troubling allegations | Sport

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A lack of transparency and a failure by the University of Toledo and the American Center for Safe Sports to complete investigations into allegations of sexual assault against women’s soccer coach Brad Evans opened the door for him to continue coaching girls and young women, according to people familiar with how Evans was hired for later jobs.

As The Guardian previously revealed, Evans was allowed to resign from his role in leading a successful women’s soccer program at the University of Toledo in 2015. At the time, the resignation indicated an “inappropriate relationship” with a co-worker, even though the university was aware of the concerns. raised by players and families, including an allegation of sexual assault.

The university ended its investigation of those complaints when he resigned – meaning the allegations of the former employees virtually disappeared. Evans has never faced criminal charges over these allegations.

After leaving Toledo, Evans was later appointed to senior positions with the Ohio Youth Football Northern League and Internationals Football Club, a regional youth football center based near Cleveland, Ohio.

Keri Sarver, director of coaching at International Football Club, has appointed Evans to take over a coaching position with the team in 2020. She told the Guardian she did not know the allegations against him in Toledo. “I knew he quit the University of Toledo because of an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker and that’s all I know,” she said.

“I was told it was a relationship with an adult co-worker and from that perspective it was a personal matter between him and his wife, family and employer. At that point, that was all I knew and at that point that was where I started and ended.”

Sarver is also currently an assistant coach with the New Zealand women’s national team in preparation for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. She boasts a lengthy resume which includes working as a scout for the United States Football Association national youth teams and as an assistant coach for the USWNT Under-18 team.

“We can only continue with what we knew at the time,” Sarver said. “We went through all the procedures – criminal background checks – and there were no red flags. All the coaches we hire or who work with our teams are trained in SafeSport every year, so he ticked all those boxes. I acted according to what I knew at the time to be right. “.

However, Sarver’s pragmatic view is not shared by some parents within the football community. After the allegations against Evans were revealed by the Guardian in July, a publicly available Facebook post confirmed how a lack of transparency over Evans’ departure from the University of Toledo affected the youth football community. “Brad has been my daughter’s club coach for two years. He made her very uncomfortable. She almost quit football because of him. Several of her teammates did. We knew why he left Utah and didn’t understand why he was appointed as coach of the club,” read the post.

After dropping out of the University of Toledo in 2015, Evans was appointed by the Ohio Youth Northern Soccer League in roles that included leading the Olympic development program. “I am shocked to this day that this man has been allowed to return to football,” a person familiar with the recruitment process told The Guardian.

“There were things that weren’t done properly in Ohio North that led to his hiring,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of professional and personal repercussions within the American football community.

“Oh yes, [his behavior] It was known at the time. Know. Everyone in that painting knows their past. It was basically, yeah, we know him, we love him, and the stories aren’t true, this is just college kids making up stories. Shame on them.”

Alfred added, “There was no consensus on the board for his appointment. There were two people on the Northern Ohio Board of Directors who were totally against it but their votes didn’t matter.”

Tom Turner was the director of training for the Ohio Youth Football Northern League at the time of Evans’ hiring, and is understood to have been the driving force behind the hiring according to multiple sources. Turner is currently listed as Director of Membership Growth and Development for the Ohio Football Association. Turner did not respond to multiple requests from the Guardian for comment via email and phone.

The Ohio Youth Football League became the Northern Ohio Football Association (OSA) in 2021. Evans continued to lead the state’s Olympic development program and American football coaching programs until the Guardian exposed allegations of abuse by six women.

“We were unaware of these allegations and have no idea about the hiring practices of other companies or organizations,” OSA CEO Gordon Henderson said in an email to The Guardian.

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The OSA has since removed any reference to Evans from its website and claims that the allegations are now under the jurisdiction of the American Center for Safe Sports. Henderson said Evans’ employment with the organization expired on July 29, 2022, a few weeks after the Guardian report was published.

Taught University of Toledo [about his behavior] And they let him resign and pretend it didn’t happen,” says Michelle Sandor, who played under Evans at Ashfield University in Ohio from 1996 to 2000.

Today, Sandor is a high school football coach and says she avoided attending any training events that Evans was scheduled to attend.

“[Toledo] “They were putting all these other women at risk,” Sandor said. “Then the Ohio Football Association hired him knowing he had to quit because of his behavior. He’s not such a great coach that you can’t find someone else. You’re going to hire someone. [allegedly] Abused women instead of finding the next best coach? terrible.”

The American Center for Safe Sports — an organization set up in 2017 to investigate and highlight cases of sexual assault and other misconduct in the Olympics and Paralympic sports — also received a report on Evans’ conduct in 2019 but did not pursue an investigation.

This report, from Candice Fabri, a former assistant coach at the University of Toledo, alleged sexual assault by Evans previously reported to the university. Fabry’s report led to multiple email exchanges and conversations with investigators and asked Fabry to gather information on other potential victims on behalf of SafeSport and forward any details to the organization. Although SafeSport learned of an allegation against Evans, the agency did not investigate him at the time.

SafeSport flag [in 2019] Fabri said: What I told Toledo and how Toledo did not speak the truth when he resigned. “This is the most frustrating thing – my story was not enough, I was always asked to go and see if I could persuade others to come forward for an investigation, and then two bodies capable of investigation and service of consequences – Toledo and SafeSport – did nothing. They knew That he was walking around and I had to get enough people to come forward to do something.”

The Guardian has submitted multiple requests for comment to the US SafeSport Center, and through a Washington, DC-based public relations firm. After multiple text and email exchanges, the US SafeSport Center has not provided any information or any spokesperson for the Guardian.

According to its website, “The Protection of Young Victims of Sexual Assault and Exercise Safety Act of 2017 has designated the American Center for Safe Sports, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, as the nation’s safe sport organization.” The 2017 Act gives SafeSport the power to resolve reports of abuse and misconduct throughout the Olympic and Paralympic movement in the United States — which includes football. The center is funded by an annual contribution of $20 million from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and some of that funding comes from sports governing bodies that pay the fee—actually a form of fine—based on the number of allegations reported to the center.

A 2022 ABC News investigation into the American Center for Safe Sports found that “the system has allowed alleged perpetrators of serial violations to return to their sports without or without warning, undermining the faith of some athletes and their advocates in the center’s work, which in turn threatens the center’s ability to operate.” effectively.”

US SafeSport can ban and suspend individuals from participating in a sport under the USOPC umbrella. These individuals are listed in the central disciplinary database. Although Evans did not face sanctions when the US Center for Safe Sports first received a report of his alleged behavior in 2019, it was later listed with a “temporary suspension” on July 11, 2022, following a Guardian investigation.

“Could there be more support and more tools in and highlighting incidents like this?” Sarver said. “I think the answer is yes.”

The one who knows how Evans was hired by the Ohio Youth Northern Football League in 2017 added: “I’m sad for these girls [at Toledo]. I’m sad that one university allowed it to happen, and kept letting it happen, and it ended it, but Ohio North Soccer said, “That’s fine. I’m going back to Ohio.”

  • Brad Evans did not respond to multiple requests for an interview or email questions regarding specific allegations about his time with Toledo. He gave a statement to the Guardian about his leaving the university:

    “In 2015 I was asked to answer questions about my relationships with some of my former co-workers. It was clear that my interactions with these co-workers showed a miscalculation on my part, was against university policy, and resigning was for the best of all involved,” Evans wrote.

    “With the help of counseling, I learned a lot about the reasons for my behavior. I am very fortunate to have had my wife’s support in the process. Together, I am still learning how to become a better person. I am deeply sorry that I disappointed so many people, but I am still working on making a future Positive. Thanks for allowing me to present my point of view.”

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