KPLL president says league’s screening process works

Despite the allegations that Richard and Jesse Perry preyed on young boys who were involved in youth sports, King Phillip Little League president, Mark DeFelice, is confident that the safeguards in place, and the practices employed by the league, are sufficient to make little league baseball a positive experience.

“I think we do everything we can do. If someone said something that can make it safer, we would do it,” Mr. DeFelice said.

As most who are involved in youth sports, Mr. DeFelice began volunteering with the league when his son started playing. Since 2000, Mr. DeFelice has been involved with the league, taking on the responsibility of league president in 2012. During his time with the league, KPLL implemented background checks on volunteer managers and coaches.

“Our town was one of the first to put in our own background checks,” he said. “That was put in place prior to Little League mandating it.”

While criminal background checks add a level of assurance that those involved with youth leagues are of sound character, only those with a prior conviction would be flagged. The background checks don’t just look for sex offenders, he said. Any conviction that would put a person’s character into question would eliminate them from consideration.

“Could a person slip through the cracks? Yes,” Mr. DeFelice said.

But even those who came back ‘clean’ would be put before a panel of division directors to select the best coaches.

“All it would take is one person” to decline an applicant for them to be denied into the league,” Mr. DeFelice said. “Not just abuse charges. If they had a temper or just not good with kids.”

King Phillip Little League, like programs across the country, is run by volunteers.

“Just about every coach is a parent of a player. Others might be an uncle, but 99.9 percent are parents,” Mr. DeFelice said.

As far as Richard Perry’s involvement with the league, Mr. DeFelice said that since he’s been president of KPLL, Mr. Perry hasn’t been involved.

“He never applied to be a coach. He e-mailed me about doing umpire clinics. I told him we would get back to him. I never contacted him and he never contacted me after that,” Mr. DeFelice said.

“We’ve never had this situation,” he said.

Before the start of the baseball season, managers, coaches and other team volunteers discuss appropriate interactions with children.

“I think things are fine the way they stand,” Mr. DeFelice said about the volunteer screening process.  “We’ve had coaches apply that nobody knew and they wouldn’t be selected. We’d ask them to stay involved.”

With KPLL sign-ups scheduled to begin for the spring baseball season, Mr. DeFelice hopes that the recent allegations don’t have a negative impact on the benefits of little league involvement.

“I don’t want parents concerned,” he said.

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10 Comments

  1. focus said:

    I venture the KPLL is a youth organization. It has no Justice Department, no Police Department, no Investigative Bureau. Within the confines of the law, it’s application process and background checks are the tools at it’s disposal. Unless or untill evidence to the contrary, challenges to it’s integrity are baseless. That said, it may serve the public to be informed of what a “background check” entails.

    • BSFilter said:

      It’s my opinion that an important point is still being missed.

      Mr. DeFelice says that “all it would take is one person” to decline an applicant for them to be denied into the league. “Not just abuse charges. If they had a temper or just not good with kids.”

      That makes good copy, but did KPLL share its concerns about Ric with Little League’s regional governing body in Bristol, CT, or its national headquarters in Williamsport, PA? Apparently not, because Ric remained a prominent and respected Little League umpire, repeatedly being selected to work regional and national All-Star games long after KPLL decided that he and his brother weren’t fit to serve the local league.

      (Look at the photo that accompanies today’s story about Ric’s arraignment. He wore a jacket to his arraignment with a Little League Baseball – Bristol, CT patch on it!)

      KPLL does good work. Understandably they want to distance themselves from the Perrys, I hope as more energy is being spent internally on reviewing what more could and should have been done pre- and post-2000.

      As Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

      • 2nd Beach said:

        “…….but did KPLL share its concerns about Ric with Little League’s regional governing body in Bristol, CT, or its national headquarters in Williamsport, PA? ” …………

        Did you?
        Why didn’t you?
        Did you have any?

        How does Bristol Connecticut Little League have anything to do with Bristol Rhode Island?

        Also,

        What concerns? They didn’t reply to him wanting to do clinics? That’s not an indication of concern.

        Also,
        Are you stating that everyone who doesn’t make it through the “post-2000″ applicaiton process to be a coach or umpire should be reported to Little League National Headquarters?

        BSFILTER is a good anonymous name for you – too bad you don’t self-filter.

  2. focus said:

    “Apparently” you would have Mr. DeFelice relay to Little League’s regional governing body in Bristol, CT, rumor and innuendo. Aside from being potentially slanderous, can Mr. DeFelice be responsible for each rumor in Bristol ? A daunting task, even if humanly possible.. If the Perrys are still associated with the Little League organization, Mr. DeFelice can inform them they have been arrested and charged, if he hasn’t already done so.

    • Mark DeFelice said:

      As a matter of clarification. I have been in contact with Little League at both the regional and national level since Rick Perry’s arrest and also informed both levels when I became aware of Jesse’s arrest. They were already aware. KPLL will continue to cooperated and help Little League International in any way possible during this proccess.

      Mark DeFelice
      KPLL President 2013

      • BSFilter said:

        Focus, there is such a thing as nuance. You can say what needs to be said without libel or slander.

        Once aware that Ric was still umpiring Little League outside of Bristol RI (which was well known and promoted on sports pages), KPLL could have conveyed to the powers that be that perhaps they should take a closer look at the applicant because our board felt that he wasn’t fit to serve.

        What’s more important than the kids safety and well-being?

        • AlanM said:

          BSFilter, you and Rick have ignored the question I keep hearing asked of both of you and all those who continue to harp on this notion that KPLL should have warned Little league in In Bristol CT. and Williamsport about the Perry Brother. Since the two of you knew about them for 30 years and seem to think you know all about KPLL and BS Filter has admitted that he or she was involved and has a child in the league. Why did you not go to the leaders of KPLL and voice your concerns about the Perry’s umpiring in Bristol CT. or Williamsport? Why didn’t you call Bristol CT? Why didn’t you call Williamsport?

          And did you ever consider that KPLL might not even know Rick was umpiring at those levels?

          And this one is stricktly for BSFilter…..If you think KPLL has done such a lousy job of notifying the “powers that be” and is “naive and wrong” why on earth would you have your child play in a league with such poor leadership in your mind, who is naive and dumb and doesn’t do enough to ensure safety of children?

          let’s see if you both ignore them once again.

    • BSFilter said:

      Focus, there is such a thing as nuance. You can say what needs to be said without libel or slander.

      Once aware that Ric was still umpiring Little League outside of Bristol RI (which was well known and promoted on sports pages), KPLL could have conveyed to the powers that be that perhaps they should take a closer look at the applicant because our board felt that he wasn’t fit to serve.

      What’s more important than the kids safety and well-being?

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