Sask. softball officials try to silence parents after coach charged with child abuse, says mom

·3 min read
A Saskatoon minor softball coach and administrator has been suspended after he was charged with sexually abusing a child over a five-year period. Police are asking any other victims to come forward. (Mejini Neskah/Shutterstock - image credit)
A Saskatoon minor softball coach and administrator has been suspended after he was charged with sexually abusing a child over a five-year period. Police are asking any other victims to come forward. (Mejini Neskah/Shutterstock - image credit)

Saskatoon softball officials are trying to silence parents after a prominent coach was charged with child abuse, says one mother.

Heidi Dutton says parents were told to sign a confidentiality agreement before entering an emergency meeting over the weekend. The meeting was called to discuss the sexual assault charges against 56-year-old Ricky Davis.

Dutton refused to sign.

"It's 2021. It's time we teach our girls and women that sexual assault is something we talk about openly and we don't hide," Dutton said.

Dutton says officials need to create a safe space to invite any other victims to come forward. But she said softball officials are trying to shut down discussion with the attempted "gag order."

'We've done our job'

Saskatoon Minor Softball League volunteer board member Noreen Murphy declined to discuss the non-disclosure agreement. She said they've dealt with the issue, and there's nothing more they can do.

"We've done our job. We've suspended him. To me, that's all we're involved in. That's it. We're moving forward. We have a league to prepare for," Murphy said.

According to police, Ricky Davis, 56, was charged with sexually assaulting a child between the ages of five and nine between February 2012 and December 2017. Police investigators "are concerned that there may be other victims" and are asking them to come forward, according to a news release.

After charges were announced late last week, Davis was suspended from his positions as coach of the under-16 girls' Saskatoon Hustlers team, as the team's local zone commissioner and as Saskatoon Minor Softball League board member.

An emergency meeting was held at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex in Saskatoon on Saturday. Dutton and other parents were asked to sign a form as they entered.

Non-disclosure agreement

Dutton said she thought it was a standard COVID-19 contact tracing form, but it was a non-disclosure agreement. She refused to sign and took her seat.

Shortly after the meeting began, she said another parent asked why they had to sign, and asked if police told officials it was necessary.

According to Dutton, an official said the forms were necessary because they "didn't want to see discussions in the media." An official asked her to leave, but she argued against it and was allowed to stay.

During the meeting, Dutton said, she and others raised concerns about Davis.

Dutton said this was the first she's heard of any alleged criminal behaviour, but she and others have lodged multiple complaints over the years about Davis's methods and lack of transparency. Dutton said she and others have either resigned or been forced off the minor softball board for questioning Davis.

Ricky Davis, 56, is accused of sexually assaulting a child.
Ricky Davis, 56, is accused of sexually assaulting a child.(Supplied by Heidi Dutton)

Murphy said the league, like other minor sports organizations, has a rigorous, 10-step screening process for coaches and volunteers that includes a criminal record check.

Murphy said they will be posting a statement on the SMSL website and social media notifying everyone of the suspension. The Hustlers team posted a statement on its website Monday afternoon.

"Protecting the participants within our softball community is our first priority and it is a responsibility we take seriously," read the statement.

Davis's first court appearance was scheduled for Monday morning in Saskatoon, but it was delayed due to a backlog of other cases.

No one from Softball Saskatchewan could be reached for comment Monday afternoon.