Capitol Report: Sports Organization Bill Attempts to Close Loophole Used by Child Predators

“From 2014 to 2019 rates of child sexual abuse steadily rose impacting 7400 Colorado children in just these five years.”

A bill that aims to close a loophole that a predator might use to prey on children passed its first committee hearing on Tuesday.

HB24-1080 Youth Sports Personnel Requirements sponsored by Representative Jennifer Parenti (Democrat HD19 Boulder and Weld counties) hones in on private sports organizations such as nonprofit club sports and private businesses that specialize in sports training.  Current law already places background check requirements on public or governmental entities that serve children.

In presenting the bill, Parenti cited a private sports training facility owner who had concerns that a job applicant at his facility was arrested for “alleged abuse of minors” during the job interview process.

Kyle Pappas owner of Denver based Empire Athletics, a sports training facility, testified that two days after interviewing a potential employee, he discovered that the person was arrested out of state, “Currently there is nothing requiring me as a business owner or with youth that requires any sort of criminal background investigation.”

Pappas assured that his business practices the use of criminal background checks but approached Parenti last year with concerns that his industry at large has no such requirements codified into law.

“We recognize that Colorado must take additional steps to prevent future instances of child abuse including child sexual abuse,” testified Jade Woodard  Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, a statewide  nonprofit working to strengthen organizations, families, and communities to prevent child maltreatment, “Research published in 2021 indicates that in Colorado and in our own backyards, child sexual abuse is a major public health concern that must be addressed as a core element of child safety and family wellbeing.”  That research documented that from 2014 to 2019 rates of child sexual abuse steadily rose impacting 7400 Colorado children in these 5 years, according to Woodard.

As the bill works its way through the hearing phase, amendments being considered are the addition of international background checks on adults working with children.  An additional amendment would mandate CPR, First Aid, AED (automated external defibrillator), and concussion training for adults of those organizations that are not functioning at facilities where trained personnel typically exist such as lifeguards at a swimming pool or ski patrol on ski slopes.

Questions and comments from committee members slightly departed from party lines.  Representative Kyle Brown (Democrat HD12, Boulder, Broomfield) questioned whether the bill would target people who are volunteering only a short time and Representative Regina English (Democrat HD17 El Paso county) felt that the bill didn’t go far enough.  English questioned background checks on the person who only occasionally assists with the team and has an immediate family member participating in a youth sports organization [and] is not required to obtain a criminal history record check, “For me it’s either we’re going to protect children completely or we’re not.”

Representative Ron Weinberg (Republican HD51 Larimer County) questioned the burden of placing more requirements “on people who are just trying to go out and do the simple thing.  To put stuff into law now having to codify, I think is going to apply pressure to people that they don’t really need.”

Another opposing vote came from Representative Brandi Bradley (Republican HD39 Douglas county) who expressed putting the responsibility on parents, “I think parents can pick where to take their kids.  It’s the role of parents to be involved in where their kids are going.”

Affirmative positions came from Representative Karen McCormick (Democrat HD11 Boulder county) who said that after years of gymnastics, dance and soccer classes that she assumed that universal background checks were law, “I absolutely made that assumption time and time again,” along with Representative Mary Bradfield (Republican HD21 El Paso county), “There was a day when a dad could get out onto the soccer field and a mom could get out on the field and be a coach but unfortunately we’re not seeing those days as much anymore.”

Representative David Ortiz (Democrat HD38 Arapahoe, Jefferson counties) in affirmation acknowledged the testimony of Pappas, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in the short time that I’ve been here where [a business owner was] like, yes give me regulation.”

The only Republican to support the bill was Representative Richard Holtorf (Republican HD 63 Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, Yuma counties) who added, “I absolutely know there are predators out there. They’re clever. They’re devious. And they’re disgusting.”


the vote: passes 9 to 3

yes                                                                         no

Bradfield                                                                Bradley

Brown                                                                    English

Hernandez                                                             Weinberg







Excused: Hamrick



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