Alleged victims plan no abuse complaint

Updated: January 18, 2012, 1:43 AM ET
By Tom Farrey | ESPN.com

Satisfied that their disclosures led to Robert "Bobby" Dodd losing his longtime job as president of the Amateur Athletic Union, the two former players who went public with their allegations of sexual molestation last month say they will not file a formal criminal complaint with Memphis police.

Ralph West, who had accused Dodd of molesting him in the 1980s, also expressed a lack of confidence in the police department in Dodd's hometown where for decades he ran a prominent AAU club.

"They're not concerned with what Dodd did," West told ESPN, after speaking with a detective Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 13. "It took them a month to get back to me after saying they were going to follow up in a few days. Even when I talk with them, it's obvious they don't want to deal with it."

A Memphis police official disputed the notion that his department is disinterested in the case.

"That's not even close to true," said Dave Martello, deputy chief of investigative services. "If we weren't serious about it, we never would have contacted him."

This much they agree on: West cooperated with police after he and another player, whose identity was not revealed, told Outside the Lines that Dodd touched their genitalia, masturbated in front of them, collected the underwear of boys on his teams, and tried to secretly videotape them having sex with girls.

But on Monday, Martello said he didn't believe any of the locations that West provided to his detectives a month earlier were within the city limits of Memphis, so his department may not have jurisdiction.

"Wrong," West said. "I gave detailed places and addresses. I told them about the East Memphis Y which is clearly within city limits (and where West alleges Dodd touched him in a shower). He's uninformed."

Asked about that, Martello said, "We're not 100 percent sure that YMCA is in Memphis." However, the address is listed in directories as 5885 Quince Road, Memphis, and a receptionist confirmed as much.

Another point of contention is the statute of limitations. During a Dec. 13 press conference, a Shelby County prosecutor was vague about whether charges even could be pursued because Tennessee's statute of limitations for sex crimes is complicated and has changed several times since the 1980s.

On Monday, Martello reiterated that uncertainty, saying no further analysis could be done until an alleged victim filed a formal criminal complaint. "I'm just saying, the statute of limitations is going to have to be looked at if Mr. West or anyone else wants to come forward," he said.

However, West said the detective he spoke with on Tuesday told him the matter had been resolved.

"He told me the statute had expired unless I was forcibly raped," he said. "That didn't happen to me." Martello confirmed Tuesday evening that an investigator from his sex crimes unit shared that analysis of the statute of limitations with West.

Dodd has not spoken publicly, but his attorney, Steve Farese, has declared his innocence.

"I'm not surprised," he wrote Tuesday in reaction to the news of the filing of no formal complaints.

Farese termed the accounts of players as "unsubstantiated, salacious allegations." But Martello said no determination was made about the quality of their claims, and said of West, "Listening to what he told ESPN in the interview, there are good reasons to believe that he's telling the truth, the absolute truth." But without the formal complaint, he said, it would be unusual to move ahead with a full investigation, or even interview Dodd or other witnesses to determine facts.

West, a chef who lives in Miami, said he does not want to spend the money on the travel and legal costs that would likely accrue from initiating a criminal case based in Memphis.

The other former player who spoke with Outside the Lines piece lives within a drive of the Memphis police department, but said he will pass on filing a written complaint out of fear that his identity will become public. Martello confirmed that his name would not be protected in the event of an arrest.

The fact that Dodd got fired for alleged sexual abuse "was good enough for me," the alleged victim said.

Both players had stated that their goal in sharing their accounts of sexual abuse was to prevent Dodd from having access to children through his roles with the AAU and his personal Memphis club, Youth of Memphis Competitors Association (YOMCA). West said he plans to "keep my eye on him" and hasn't ruled out a civil lawsuit if Dodd's lawyer threatens him, or if Dodd re-emerges on the youth sports scene.

AAU officials have described Dodd as being ill with cancer. Farese wrote last week by email that he didn't have "the authority" to confirm any health condition of his client, but that "he is doing better" than he was in December when he was fired from his $270,000-a-year job with the national office.

Dodd also lost his AAU membership that allows him to affiliate with his YOMCA club, said Ron Sachs, a crisis-management consultant for the AAU. But officials will allow the AAU boys' national championships for seventh graders and second graders -- lucrative tournaments Dodd hosted annually in Memphis -- to stay with YOMCA, which according to tax filings had revenues of $284,506 in 2010.

Sachs said the tournaments' director will be William Anderson, a longtime associate of Dodd's.

Tom Farrey is a reporter with ESPN's Enterprise Unit. He can be reached at tom.farrey@espn.com and can be followed on Twitter at @TomFarrey.

Tom Farrey | email

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