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Fallout from sexual abuse scandal involving St. Louis area youth soccer coach continues

Hugh McVey was charged in August with statutory rape and sodomy involving a 16-year-old player he met while coaching for Lou Fusz Athletic

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A soccer mom wanting to do more to ensure child athletes are protected from sexual predators.

Coaches upset about the silence among other soccer clubs – and at least one soccer club speaking out.

A victim’s high school explaining to parents why it is retaining an employee related to a select soccer coach charged with sexually abusing one of its students.

All are part of the fallout from news that the coach has been criminally charged with the statutory rape and sodomy of a 16-year-old player he met while coaching for the Lou Fusz Athletic Club.

And all are reasons why Cindy Kerber Spellman, whose daughters play for a different soccer club, believe the case is a chance for change.

“I think this is an opportunity for us as a youth sports community to look at this and say, ‘Is there something we've missed? Is there anything in this process, we could do better?’ And, ‘How can we make this an active conversation so we're all holding each other accountable?’” she said.

She said her biggest concern has been the silence among the youth athletic scene, which she said reminds her of the sexual abuse scandals that rocked USA Gymnastics and Penn State, in which many knew of the misconduct, but did nothing to stop it or speak out against it.

"The silence is concerning to me, I'll admit, but there's a lot of activity happening behind the scenes of parents wanting more and coaches saying we stand out against sexual misconduct and we we stand for proper environments for players," she said.

Hugh Patrick McVey, 32, was charged with statutory rape and sodomy in both St. Louis and St. Charles counties in August. He posted his $50,000 bail and pleaded not guilty today to the charges he is facing in St Louis County. He waived his preliminary hearing and formal arraignment. 

RELATED: Former Lou Fusz soccer coach charged with statutory rape for sex with 16-year-old player

Kirkwood and St. Charles County police investigators said he statutorily raped and sodomized a 16-year-old player he met while coaching soccer for the select soccer club. The alleged abuse began in March.

McVey has a criminal history that included a 2019 DWI and resisting arrest case in which he was initially charged with assaulting a female police officer.

Lou Fusz has issued a statement, which read, in part, “No background check for the past year disclosed a plea or conviction that was entered this February.”

The response exposed what Kerber Spellman believes is a vulnerability in the Missouri Youth Soccer Association's (MYSA) background checks for coaches.

Kerber Spellman said the Lou Fusz case prompted her to contact MYSA and ask that parent voices be included at their board meetings.

“Something inspired me about this, about this case out of compassion, but also being close to the sport and wondering, is this an opportunity for us to reflect and maybe for MYSA to revise?” Ferber Spellman said.

MYSA processes 5,000 background checks and training sessions annually, mostly within the 60 days surrounding new seasons. The company that performs background checks for MYSA is JD Palatine, which only captures convictions, according to the state agency.

McVey pleaded guilty to the lesser charges stemming from his 2019 arrest just this past February – so it would not have been captured on a background check until August of this year.

But, he never underwent this year’s background check.

The allegations of sexual abuse surfaced in June. Lou Fusz Athletic representatives said they notified MYSA and SafeSport, which revoked his coaching license.

MYSA’s Executive Director Nik Bushell issued a statement, which read, in part, “due to the sensitive nature of the situation involving a youth player, we will not publicly comment, but I assure you we took all the proper actions in our protocols within minutes of being contacted by the club.”

News of McVey’s charges also impacted other select soccer coaches, some of whom took to Twitter to voice their concerns.

Coach Michael Manthey wrote, “I’m utterly sickened and disappointed with the silence from far too many."

In another tweet, Manthey wrote: "Your words in this situation carry weight. Your lack of words unfortunately carry more.”

Another coach, Jeff Patrylo, responded to Manthey’s tweet with, “Happened to another club six years ago and that club didn’t say a word about it. Can’t put into words how upset it makes me. These kids put their trust into their coaches, only to have things like this happen.”

Manthey coaches for The Fillies.

That club’s owner, Steve Pietrowski, issued a statement on social media, which read: “I want to assure you we take these incidents very seriously and encourage any concerns be brought to my attention.”

The fallout has also spread to the victim’s high school.

5 On Your Side is not naming the school to protect the identity of the victim, but did obtain an email the school sent to parents.

It confirmed the victim is a student there, and that her alleged abuser is related to a member of the high school’s athletic staff.

The president of the high school wrote to parents: “The alleged sexual misconduct,” happened outside the school and away from school property.

It continued, “We respect the privacy of our faculty and staff and therefore do not comment on personal matters, act upon, or respond to rumors and speculation about their family members, which we consider to be confidential.”

The school sent a statement to 5 On Your Side, which stated the staff member’s name, calling her, “A committed member of our community, we value her role and expertise she brings to our student athletes and our athletic program. We challenge our students to grow in faith, knowledge and respect for self and others. We support our young women with resources to foster their welfare; we guide them and give them tools they need to develop spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.”

A parent outraged that the school is keeping the staff member employed even though the victim attends school there sent the email to 5 On Your Side, but declined an interview, saying they feared their child could face retaliation if they speak out.

That’s part of the culture of silence surrounding misconduct involving minors Kerber Spellman said needs to end on the soccer fields, too.

“I know a lot of clubs are afraid to have this conversation or to speak out on this,” she said. “I don't understand it completely because no parent is going to leave an organization or a club standing up for the right thing.

She added: "Part of the reason I'm speaking out also is because my kids have had direct impact from phenomenal coaches and whether it's sports or other activities, they have people that care about them ... and when something like this happens it casts a shadow over the integrity of club directors, coaches that do a great job, day in and day out. And I think people are uncomfortable talking about the topic, but if we can talk about it, it sets a good example for our kids, but it also gets parents on the same page."

In addition to calling police, anyone with concerns about coaches can also report any misconduct to the U.S. Center for SafeSport by visiting www.safesport.org or calling (720) 531-0340.

RELATED: Player accuses Lou Fusz soccer coach of sexual abuse

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