The circumstances regarding the departure of a former veteran Keene State College Softball Coach Charlie Beach have been revealed.
Despite the investigative teams research and testimonies they revealed Beach to be of no threat to his athletes and reported that they did not find that a hostile environment existed on the softball team at KSC, administration still decided to not renew a coaching contract with Beach.
To many the decision not to renew Beach’s contract was a shock. Beach had been with the KSC softball program for 29 years and was loved by many of his athletes.
However, In March 2013, a student-athlete’s mother sent an email to Athletic Director John Ratliff claiming that her daughter, referred to as Jane Doe 1 in the official reports released from the McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton Law Firm said her daughter was being sexually harassed by Beach.
Jane Doe 1 had tried out for the team and was cut shortly after expressing discomfort with Beach’s alleged inappropriate touching of her waist. Jane Doe 1’s mother added that other women on the team were also being “felt up” by Beach.
After learning this, the investigators dove deeper into claims against Beach, many claims explaining that Beach made derogatory comments against women, one including Beach claiming he has a reputation of liking “blonde women.”
During the formal investigation of the matter, interviews were conducted with Jane Doe 1, her mother, Beach, Ratliff and other administration, student-athletes and softball coaching staff members.
This was not the first time a formal complaint of sexual harassment was filed against Beach. Over ten years ago in 2003, Beach was subject to investigation after a student made similar complaints about inappropriate behavior involving jokes and humor that crossed the line.
After the complaint Beach was required to attend counseling and mandated classes on sexual harassment to reinforce the college’s policies of coach-to-athlete relationships. Yet, just one year later, another complaint was made in 2004 when Beach came under fire again for the same types of sexual harassment violations.
When interviewed for the investigation Beach did not disclose these prior complaints and exhibited an attitude of indifference to the complaints about his conduct and sexual harassment training.
Beach described his sexual harassment training as un-helpful and the “same old stuff.” Investigators said that statement reflects a lack of understanding or some degree of insensitivity about the value of faculty and staff education on sexual harassment prevention.
According to the report, “ Beach’s inability or unwillingness to approach these students concerns in a more considerate manner appears at odds with the colleges goal to advance the well- being and development of its students and to foster an environment that is respectful and responsive to the concerns and sensibilities of its students.”
In regards to Beach’s treatment of Jane Doe 1 during tryouts , Beach, Jane Doe 1, and other interviewer’s had differing perceptions on how Beach treated her during practices and the manner in which she was cut from the team.
Jane Doe 1 describes that she felt Beach humiliated her by the manner in which she was cut. Jane Doe 1 said she was cut after an intra-team scrimmage, on the softballs right field in the vicinity of the players and parents.
Beach confirmed that he did indeed cut Jane Doe 1 after the scrimmage, near the right field fence, but in a personal setting appropriate to the softball environment which were corroborated by witness’s , assistant coaches, and a player.
Assistant Coach Meghan McLoughlin stated that Beach, his wife Deb (also a coach) talked about cutting players on a weekly basis.
McLoughlin stated that Jane Doe 1 was in competition with another player for the same position and that Jane Doe 1 was not as good as the competition in the end.
Mcloughlin stated she could not remember when in the season Jane Doe 1 was cut but that it was usual before the regular season games so that the player could transfer without losing athletic eligibility and remembers that day in detail.
“The team had finished practice or a scrimmage and girls were responsible for dragging and raking the field. At that time, Beach and Jane Doe 1 met down the fence away from the players.
McLoughlin was picking up with the girls and did not know Beach was cutting Jane Doe 1 at the moment, but it had been discussed that she would be cut. Sometimes Jane Doe 1 played in the field and at bat well and oher days her competitors player better than Jane Doe 1. It is not that Jane Doe 1 is a bad softball player, just not as good as the competition.”
While other players did their jobs McLoughlin said it was not unusual for a player to be cut on the field. Sometimes at the end of practices Beach will leave with the player but usually happens when he can step aside.
Another player Jane Doe 2 agrees with McLoughin that Jane Doe 1 could have played better but that she did show that to the coaches. Jane Doe 2 stated that during tryouts Jane Doe 1 did not make good plays and made errors that other girls did better. Jane Doe 2 also said she thought Beach handled Jane Doe’s 1 cut well.
Carrah Fisk Hennessy is currently the interim softball coach and became an assistant in Fall 2013. Hennessy is also KSC softball alumni.
Although Hennessy does not know Jane Doe 1 she described that for incoming first-year students there are 16 practice opportunities and one competitive scrimmage.
She continued to explain that players are cut in the Fall on a rolling basis , particularly walk-ons and that when Beach would cut a player he would normally call the player aside at the end of practice.
A former coach of Jane Doe 1 who works at a high school, is KSC softball alumni who was also interviewed. Former Coach 3 coached Jane Doe 1 for a year and also had her in class.
Former Coach 3 believes that Jane Doe 1 might have had “culture shock” going to KSC because Jane Doe 1 was a “big fish” on her high school softball team, but at college although she was a good player. Former Coach 3 even said that when she was a better player on her high school team and had to adjust not being the best on the KSC team.
Both Hennessy and Former Coach 3 described that they had positive experiences when they were on the team. Hennessy even said “ life changing” and Former Coach 3 stated she would have not stayed at KSC if it wasn’t for the friendships she made on the team.
As for inappropriate touching, Hennessy stated that Beach will put his hands on players shoulders to talk to them face to face or that he might put his arm around a players shoulder as he coaches her and does not believe Beach has ever put his arm around a players waist.
Hennessy described Beach’s manner of hugging as a “1,2,3 hug” indicating three taps on the back and that he gives parents “big handshakes” and does not find his physical conduct weird in any way.
In regards to how the complaint was filed there are many accounts of who and who didn’t receive contact from Jane Doe 1 or Jane Doe 1’s Mother.
John Ratliff states that the day after he received Jane Doe 1’s complaint he went to Andy Robinson the then Vice President for student affairs because it involved a KSC student. Robinson then emailed Director of Human Resources Kim Harkness. Ratliff stated that he might have talked to Head Men’s Basketball coach Robert Colbert before sending the email to Robinson but did not talk to Beach.
After Robinson spoke to Jane Doe 1, Robinson, Beach, and Ratliff had a meeting to discuss with Beach what happened. Ratliff stated the meeting was more about telling beach to be aware of his actions and that it was not appropriate to touch players near the waist.
Ratliff also stated that based on Robinsons e-mail to Harkness that Robinson was not treating it as a complaint of sexual harassment. According to the report Harkness told Ratliff that if he receives a complaint of sexual harassment he has to report it to an intake officer.
Ratliff had no understanding of what is required after the complaint is reported to the intake officer.
Also in the reports in states that Ratliff has no prior knowledge of the 2003 complaint and has no recollection of the complaint in 2004. Until President Huot recently discussed Beach’s personnel file Ratliff has never reviewed it.
The Equinox made attempts to talk to Ratliff and Colbert but was redirected to Spokeswoman of the college, Kelly Ricaurte.
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