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Former youth coach spotlighted by America's Most Wanted

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hamiltonJohn_lgIf you do a Google News search with the words coach and arrested, you’re pretty sure to find at least two to five youth coaches a week under suspicion of something. (Or you can let do the work for you.) But it takes a real go-getter to graduate from algorithmic grab to America’s Most Wanted. Congratulations, John Hamilton!

According to the web site for the long-running Fox television program, an international manhunt for Hamilton, 38, of Centreville, Va., is under way, focusing on Germany and Denmark, the latter of which was a home country of one of his his victims. Some background from America’s Most Wanted:

For 20 years, coach John Hamilton was a fixture in the Fort Hunt Area of Northern Virginia.

He was known not only as a baseball coach, but also as an umpire and someone parents could count on when a child needed a ride home. Hundreds of parents and kids knew him and supported his family’s silk screening business.

But his warm personality and engaging smile, belied a horrifying double life.

In early 2009, a 24-year-old man approached police and reported that he had been assaulted during a four-month period in 1997 when he was just 12 years old.

The man said that he had seen Hamilton at a local convenience store with a young boy, and the sight convinced him to come forward. Since then, nine others have come forward.

Hamilton was arrested in May 2009 and charged with aggravated sexual battery and three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a supervisory relationship.

A grand jury indicted him, and a judge set bond, which was revoked when he contacted one of his alleged victims.  He was let out on bond a second time and the judge didn’t ask for his passport.

Hamilton was to enter a guilty plea on October 7, 2009, that would have kept him in prison for decades.  He failed to appear in court.

Police in Virginia say the “getting lost” was facilitated with the help of his mother, who not only posted cash bonds for him but expedited her passport request so she could travel too.

Cops say that the mother and son went to Frankfurt, Germany in September 2009; she returned, he did not.

The Fort Hunt Youth Association said Hamilton stopped umpiring and coaching there in 2002. In its statement regarding Hamilton’s arrest, it noted that every coach goes through a background check. Unfortunately, if a person doesn’t have a criminal record, a background check, no matter how extensive, can’t tell you whether a coach is likely to be a predator. (I’ve found no indication Hamilton had any police record before his arrest.) All a parent or league official can do is set parameters for what is appropriate coach-player conduct, and keep their eyes open for anything that seems a little off.

Hamilton might not have been coaching, but he was still involved with kids. Police said at the time of his arrest, Hamilton had a male 16-year-old foreign exchange student living with him.

Written by rkcookjr

November 19, 2009 at 12:26 am