Umpire for youth sports in Swansea fails to register as sex offe - KMOV.com

Umpire for youth sports in Swansea fails to register as sex offender

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Dennis Cotton was arrested by police after they say he umpired youth sports and failed to register as a sex offender. (Photo: Swansea PD) Dennis Cotton was arrested by police after they say he umpired youth sports and failed to register as a sex offender. (Photo: Swansea PD)

SWANSEA, Illinois (KMOV) -  News 4 is digging for answers after a youth umpire is discovered to be a child sex offender. Dawn Parke, a mother of four, can’t believe this has even happened.

“The idea that he can get that position is concerning,” said Parke.

What's especially concerning for Parke is knowing Dennis Cotton got away with it for so long. Her daughters attend Smithton Elementary School, and she had to answer a lot of questions just to work with her children’s cheerleading squad.

“Even I had to go get fingerprinted and checked out just to be a driver for the cheerleaders. I was surprised that he hadn't had a background check,” said Parke.

Swansea police arrested 50-year-old Cotton for failing to register as a sex offender and several other counts of unlawful presence in a public park by a sex offender.

Authorities say the district hired him based on his certification though the Illinois High School Association. He was initially certified in the spring of 2015, but he passed by lying and stating he was not a felon. The association found out and blocked him in mid-September, according to officials with the association.

News 4 reached out to IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson to find out what is being done to prevent something like this from happening again.

“It's obviously disappointing that someone got through our system and was able to get out on the field with some athletes,” said Anderson.

In response to the situation, Illinois State Representative Dan Beiser is filing legislation that will require sports officials, such as referees and umpires, hired by the IHSA to undergo a background check before being allowed to oversee athletic events.

“We require teachers, support staff and parents to submit to background checks before they come into our schools and work with our children," Beiser said in a press release. "This should be no different for the men and women who officiate at sporting events, and I am hopeful this bill will receive bipartisan support to ensure the sporting events so many students participating in are safe from sexual predators.”

Parke hates that all of this even happened in the first place.

“It's sad how times have changed. Thing were much simpler back then,” said Parke.

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