Parents, Dixie leaders react to youth coach's arrest
The arrest of a Deville man for sex crimes against children, who happens to also be a youth softball coach, is raising concern among parents in the community.
Dixie assistant coach Trevor Boyle said the arrest of his coaching partner, Michael Stroud, 37, was completely unexpected.
"I'm kind of disturbed and disgusted by it," Boyle said.
The two led a Dixie softball team at 'Ward 9' in Pineville this past spring. Boyle's nine-year-old daughter was on the team.
So, Boyle was shocked to find out Stroud was booked into the Rapides Parish Jail last week for three counts of crime against nature, two counts of sexual battery with a juvenile and one count of oral sexual battery and molestation of a juvenile.
"He wasn't that kind of person as far as through coaching," Boyle said. "He was different, but not like that."
The Alexandria Police Department said the incidents occurred between 2004 to 2012. They said he did not meet his victims through youth sports.
"He never had that kind of feeling to me as far as like with the kids," Boyle said. "He wasn't hands-on or touchy, or anything."
Stroud has no priors in Rapides Parish, according to the Clerk of Court's Office. And Dixie sports leaders said they do what they can to vet all officials.
"Because of the world we live in now, we have to be as safe as we can for these kids," said Alexandria Dixie President Joe Flores.
Flores said once his board votes on coaches they begin background checks.
"If they are selected then we run background checks on all of the coaches, concession stand, umpires," Flores said. "Anybody that is affiliated with the kids."
Pineville Dixie President Luke Burch echoed the same process. He said the safety of children is always a top priority for the leagues.
State directors also encourage leagues to attach a link to a child protection plan on parent registration forms. It includes signs of child abuse, rules for one-on-one interaction and more.
"It makes me sad because we are all here for the good of the kids," Flores said. "Just one bad apple makes it worse on all of the other people."
But, Boyle can't help but wonder if background checks are not enough.
"With predators, I guess they want to angle themselves towards being involved," Boyle said. "You would think that with them vetting and doing background checks, they would get weeded out easier."
Pineville's Dixie President also said they are working to post the vetting process on their website.
Stroud is currently being held on a $700,000 bond.