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AAU chief defends handling of sex abuse claims

From George Howell and Meridith Edwards, CNN
updated 6:49 PM EST, Tue December 13, 2011
Two former players have accused Robert Dodd, former CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union, of molestation.
Two former players have accused Robert Dodd, former CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union, of molestation.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We acted immediately," AAU President Louis Stout says
  • Two former youth basketball players say they were molested in the 1980s
  • Dodd "continually denied" the allegations but had to go, Stout says

Orlando, Florida (CNN) -- The head of the Amateur Athletic Union defended the group's response to allegations that its former director sexually abused boys, telling CNN in an exclusive interview Tuesday that it went straight to police once it identified his accusers.

Robert "Bobby" Dodd, recently the group's CEO, is accused of sexually abusing boys in the 1980s, when he was a Memphis, Tennessee-based YMCA coach. AAU President Louis Stout said that unlike universities that are now accused of bungling similar situations, "We acted immediately."

"We formed our own internal investigative process, and then once we found out who the accusers were, we immediately went to the police department," he added. "We didn't sit on this. No one has acted improperly within the Amateur Athletic Union regarding these accusations."

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The AAU is a "nonprofit organization that promotes amateur sports and physical fitness programs," according to its website.

The allegations against Dodd, 63, came from anonymous e-mails and phone calls in early November but emerged publicly Sunday when two former basketball players told their stories to sports network ESPN's "Outside the Lines." But Stout said the organization had told police about the accusations before the broadcast.

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"The AAU did that, because we had investigated strongly enough to find out who these individuals were," he said. He said now that police have the names, "whatever they find, that's left up to them."

Memphis police say no one has stepped forward to file a complaint since the allegations broke.

Dodd, who is not a direct relative of the late former Georgia Tech football coach of the same name, was a basketball coach affiliated with the Memphis YMCA in the 1980s. Two now-grown men alleged in the ESPN report that Dodd abused them during that time.

The YMCA said Dodd left in 1992 "to pursue AAU sports full-time," including founding an organization called the YOMCA, which stands for Youth of Memphis Competitive Association and is unrelated to the YMCA. He eventually became president and CEO of the AAU.

CNN has been unable to reach Dodd for comment, but Stout said he "continually denied that these charges were true."

"I considered Bobby Dodd a very good friend," he said. But he said he had "to set friendship aside" in the best interests of the 113-year-old organization.

"We're not going to have anyone in this organization that they would fear relative to the safety of their children," he said.

The AAU said Dodd was removed from his post November 14, a week after the first allegations arrived by e-mail.

"We were shocked to know the allegations were there," Stout said. "But we also realize that nothing is impossible, and we can't escape the fact that these kind of things do happen."

The allegations were made amid child sex scandals at Penn State and Syracuse universities and The Citadel; both men accusing Dodd told ESPN that the publicity from the scandals prompted them to act.

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