Joel White went through the screening process without a hitch.
The Lee’s Summit man, charged April 23 in federal court with attempting to produce child pornography, was vetted and his background check came back clean according to Ron Cox, president of the Lee’s Summit Soccer Association.
In a letter addressed to parents on the organization’s website, Cox said White, a LSSA youth soccer coach charged by the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri with attempting to produce child pornography by secretly videotaping members of his soccer team at his own home, cleared every possible check conducted.
White, who lives in the 1700 block of S.E. Seventh Terrace, coached an under-12 and under-15 girls soccer team though LSSA before he was suspended from the organization following news of his arrest.
“As a fellow parent of two boys myself, I can only imagine the fear and range of emotions that you felt (April 23) when the news came out about a Lee’s Summit Youth Soccer Coach being charged with taking inappropriate pictures of minors,” Cox’s letter read. “The accused is a youth soccer coach within LSSA. He works with players ranging from elementary school to middle school. This coach was properly screened and passed multiple background checks that contain local, state and national checks for offenses against children, including the current charges he is facing. Each of the multiple background checks revealed no previous convictions or charges.”
Rob McQueen, LSSA’s vice president for fields and facilities, said the length of White’s suspension hinges on a review by its Executive Board and the outcome of his legal case.
“He is suspended as a coach pending a board review and additional legal action,” McQueen said. “He has been removed and suspended.”
McQueen added, per LSSA protocol, all coaches and volunteers are screened during background checks. McQueen also stated the organization has for months been working with Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation on a more centralized and uniform background screening process.
“Before they can actually coach, they do have to pass a background check,” he said. “We ran, per season, at least 800 background checks, including all of the assistant coaches, so well beyond just all the head coaches. We go to the assistant coaches and anybody that’s going to have contact with our players and children.”
Opening ‘Pandora’s Box’
Online court records in Johnson County, Kan. show that White was charged in 2007 with eavesdropping after allegedly secretly videotaping a woman inside a tanning salon. That charge was later amended to criminal trespassing and White was sentenced to six months in jail before being placed on probation for one year. Records show White’s probation in Johnson County ended in September of 2010.
Walter Snyder lives four houses down and across the street from White on S.E. Seventh Terrace. He said he noticed police activity at White’s home earlier in the week, then a day later watched as television news crews parked along the street. Only after media reports surfaced that evening did Snyder get an inkling of what was taking place.
“I saw one news team parked up the street, and I saw one that parked close by the mailbox and talked to a neighbor,” Snyder recalled. “I saw the news (April 23) and I thought: ‘What the heck? That’s bizarre.’ He always had the (Sporting KC soccer) flag out there and the soccer girls and the banner on the door and all that stuff.
“I didn’t know anything about him, but I would always see two or three girls over there. Sometimes they would be playing with dogs in the yard. He’s got flowers out front and the whole bit; I had no idea. I never knew.”
Snyder, a father of one, added news of White’s arrest shows that anything is possible anywhere.
“It is surprising, but in this day and age, in this world, and with digital technology and all that kind of stuff; I tell you what, I think some of that stuff just kind of open doors to Pandora’s Box and there’s some people out there that do bad things. It’s seems like it’s easier for people to do things like that. The thing about it is, I know that sure there is a lot of good people out there, but as a parent – and I’m sure there are tons of single male coaches out there that are just phenomenal – but, I mean, as a parent I would be concerned.
“It’s kind of a shocker. What goes on behind everyone’s closed doors we don’t know. Everybody’s in their own little palace and their borderline is the yard. That’s why we all drive different vehicles and eat different food and dress differently and drive different kinds of cars. There was no reason to ever suspect and it’s almost like a perfect crime in a way. He’s got the flag out, the flowers and all that; so it’s a pretty good cover.”
Theft was White’s undoing
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint against White, law enforcement officers in Commerce City, Colo., discovered videos of nude minors on White’s camera after the 40-year-old was part of a criminal investigation into theft at a soccer stadium in Colorado last month during a World Cup qualifying game.
According to a probable cause statement, while White was inside the stadium he was ultimately arrested for theft of several items including All-Star jerseys and other memorabilia. At the time of his arrest, White had numerous cameras and other digital media storage devices. Also, as part of the investigation, authorities in Colorado asked for and were given consent by White to inspect the cameras to ensure he wasn’t selling the stolen material online.
Several videos allegedly depict White positioning a video camera in a bedroom at his residence in Lee’s Summit at knee-level and pointing upward in such a way that the camera is hidden.
Shortly after White leaves the room, the affidavit says, the videos depict several minors, approximately 11 or 12-years-old, entering the room and changing their clothes. Minors are fully nude in the videos and do not appear to know they are being videotaped.
White allegedly told police in Lee’s Summit that he videotaped at least four nude minors 10 to 15 times without their consent from May to October of last year. He also admitted that in the summer of 2012, he touched one of the victims, an 11- or 12-year-old girl, while she slept at his Lee’s Summit home. He stated that he touched her breast and that he also videotaped the act.
According to the affidavit, at least four child victims have been identified so far in the investigation and some of the parents have been notified.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore and was investigated by the Lee’s Summit Police Department and the Commerce City, Colo., Police Department.
“Once LSSA was contacted by local authorities (April 22), our Executive Board members began to work diligently to answer all questions regarding the accused,” Cox said in his letter to parents. “We will continue to cooperate with the authorities to assist in anyway possible. Please know that our organization has always and will continue to do everything within our powers to protect our members, especially our youngest ones. We will continue to stand together and to provide the very highest level of professional youth programs to the community in which we live, work and play.”