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Monday, December 19, 2011

AAU chief child molestation charges don't make news perhaps because no one's rioting about it

"The new and hollow standard, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the kids”...doesn’t cut it." "Does it get any worse than these Penn State and Syracuse assistant coach stories, those making sustained big news?...

The Bobby Dodd pedophilia accusations story, now a week old, should be as big and as ugly as those unraveling about Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine. Bigger, given Dodd’s position in sports.

But it hasn’t. It has barely made a sound here.

Are we bored by such stories, or is it that if there’s no big-time sports teams and rooting and perhaps rioting interests in the mix, we don’t care as much, or even at all?

Dodd, until late last month when he very quietly resigned, was for 19 years the president and CEO of the AAU, a kingdom that does good, and in too many sneaker company-controlled cases, bad, for tens of thousands of sports-playing boys and girls throughout the country.

Dodd, as of last week, became the latest to be publicly accused of using his position in sports to target, lure, then sexually abuse male children in his charge, starting in the 1980s.

That’s where ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” enters. So often buried by ESPN in low-viewership time slots, OTL, hosted and steered by Bob Ley, continues to be well worth finding.

Last Sunday it pursued the Dodd story, providing the on-camera testimony of Ralph West, now 43, who as a kid played AAU basketball in Memphis in a program headed by Dodd. Although West claimed that he wasn’t good enough to make a team that produces college and NBA stars, “I somehow made the team” — Dodd’s team.

West said that Dodd first went out of his way to befriend him as both a religious and sports mentor, then sexually pursued him, even providing him his own motel rooms during AAU road trips — rooms Dodd would enter to sexually assault him. Eventually, said West, he barricaded himself in his rooms.

Apparently moved to act by the accusers of Sandusky, West presented OTL an email he sent to AAU’s compliance office, dated Nov. 7,

  • claiming that he knows Dodd to be a pedophile.

West and a childhood friend who was contacted by OTL, also claimed that while at Dodd’s home as kids, they helped him move a file cabinet they found loaded with child porn and piles of waist-down photos of kids he coached.

Another former AAU player of Dodd’s testified, anonymously, on OTL to much the same, adding that as a 15-year-old in Dodd’s care, his drink was spiked by Dodd to try to ensure his sexual compliance.

Dodd, 63, did not return OTL’s phone calls and emails, and would not speak with correspondent Tom Farrey who went to Dodd’s Florida home.

However, 15 minutes later, according to Farrey, Dodd emailed that he has cancer and that he retired from the AAU on Nov. 29. Yet, no public announcement had been made that the president and CEO of the AAU had retired. And not until OTL called the AAU’s No. 2 man was that confirmed.

OTL also reported that the AAU, based in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Disney World property — Disney owns ESPN — the previous week

  • claimed to be unaware of these allegations against Dodd.

But on the day after OTL called the AAU about Dodd — and before OTL’s report first aired — the AAU contacted authorities in Memphis to alert them that “serious allegations” have been made against Dodd.

Thus, the stench of a cover-up — saving face before saving kids from sexual predators — is again on the wind.

A week later, this story, I figured, would have made significant news.

  • It hasn’t, not even on ESPN beyond OTL.

We better not become inured to such stories just because there are plenty more where these come from. And the perverse practicality of pedophiles exploiting sports to bait children is far too normal among the abnormal to be disregarded as aberrational.

And, unless the perps operated within big-time college programs, the depravity of such crimes, alleged or proven, is too great to treat with a shrug or with the new and hollow standard,

  • “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the kids.” That doesn’t cut it."

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