Beckley Little League in West Virginia recently discovered that a registered sex offender had been volunteering within the youth baseball organization.
It was revealed that 29-year-old Albert Aaron Mills, a convicted sex offender, had bypassed the volunteer application form the league requires and began volunteering after the season had started. In 2004, Mills was convicted in Florida for committing lewd and lascivious battery against a victim between the ages of 6 and 12. According to the sex offender registry, Mills served nearly 7 years for his crime and is currently on probation.
Beckley Little League has said it will be revising its volunteer background screening policy following this disturbing incident. According to Bill Roop, a member of the league’s board of directors, the league will now implement random checks throughout the year to ensure that all volunteers have been background checked. However, the screening process itself has not changed. All of the league’s background checks will still be screened through the local police department. The problem with relying solely on a database-only background check is that there is still the possibility of inaccurate or out of date information in the database. Full, comprehensive background checks are needed in youth league sports to help ensure that all avenues have been checked before adults are given access to the children.
Mills spent time volunteering with the PONY League’s 7 and 8 year old practices and umpired at a least one of the games. Roop says that all volunteers must be screened each year, regardless of how long they have been with the league. “Sexual predators,” said Roop. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
The local police department, who say no children within the league were victimized by Mills, will notify Beckley Little League if they come across any criminal record for potential volunteers. The coach who did not follow league protocol by allowing Mills to volunteer with his team without checking the roster first, is currently facing disciplinary sanction.