New background check procedures effect all coaches

Last updated: March 20. 2014 9:24PM - 1878 Views
By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

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The Elkin Recreation and Parks Department is going to bat against sex predators and other hard crime criminals this baseball season by requiring coaches to prove their identity and undergo a more comprehensive background check.

The background check policy change is in response to a California sex offender, Nigel Garcia, 34, who stymied local authorities and park officials in 2013 by allegedly using an alias, David Ramon Quiroga (a deceased person). An Elkin Police Department report indicated Garcia coached children under the alias. A search on the alias name did not result in a criminal history, thus police say Garcia evaded detection of his prior sex charge.

At the time of Garcia’s coaching stint in Elkin, California authorities were seeking Garcia for other felony-related criminal charges.

San Jose, Calif., police said Garcia was convicted of sodomy with a child under 14 with force and lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 with force.

Garcia was extradited to California after U.S. Marshals pounced on his Elkin residence. According to records, Garcia posted bail in California on July 12, 2013. Garcia immediately returned to Elkin and was charged with sex offender on child premises, identity theft, and obtaining property by false pretense by the Elkin Police Department.

After the charges, Elkin officials reviewed coaching background check policies and adopted new rules governing such checks, and took steps to develop best practices in helping prove the identity of each volunteer coach.

One such new requirement compels coaches to present a government issued identification card, such as a driver’s licence, said officials.

Elkin’s new policy was initiated under a pilot run last fall for basketball coaches. Procedures were fine tuned over the course of the season. Now with 27 baseball and softball teams from ages 4-15, Elkin’s sports director said the policy is in full effect.

“We complete background checks on all coaches. Head coaches receive a national criminal background check. The service that we use, an Averity (search contractor), is very affordable and provided through the National Alliance of Youth Sports,” said Adam W. McComb, director of Elkin Recreation & Parks Department.

Coaches are randomly selected for a more thorough fingerprint screening. The number can vary.

“A designated amount are selected for fingerprints. It falls where it falls. We pull a name out of a hat, and if your name pops out, you have to be fingerprinted,” said McComb.

Fingerprints are handled in collaboration with the Elkin Police Department.

According to the director, coaches are adjusting and understand the reasons why the department had to take precautionary steps.

“We’ve had no incidents on any search. The coaches have been very helpful,” said McComb.

According to McComb, it takes less than 24 hours to get a background check back from the National Alliance of Youth Sports. “This quick turn-around allows us to evaluate any issues that surface and place the right volunteer coaches with our players,” said McComb.

Meanwhile, Garcia sits in a California detention center in Santa Clara (Elmood facility).

According to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, Garcia pleaded no contest to felony possession of a dirk or dagger charge in California courtroom on Dec. 17, 2013. Additional charges were dropped with the plea deal.

Records show Garcia was sentenced to one year in prison, but under sentencing guidelines and days credited, Garcia is able to be released as early as late April.

It is unknown if Garcia will be forced to return to Elkin through extradition procedures.

A spokesperson for the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office said those decisions are weighed by the pending charges and the ability for the county to get reimbursed for expenses, which could surge above $10,000.

The Elkin Police Department indicated that Garcia will be issued a court date upon his return to the area.

As off press time, it is unknown if Garcia’s wife and biological daughter are still residing in Elkin, which would be the likely reason for Garcia’s return to the area.

Garcia would not be permitted to coach youth sports in Elkin.

Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.

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