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Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler never did a background check on former coach Rory Dames before hiring him, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Dames has been the subject of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse and harassment allegations in two separate Washington Post stories. The first came out in November and centered around NWSL players’ experiences with the coach, while the second was published in February and dealt with Dames’s time as a youth coach.
According to Molly Hensley-Clancy’s reporting for the Washington Post, Whisler was unaware of the claims made against Dames, which included a former youth player’s allegation that Dames had groomed her starting at the age of 14 and pursued a sexual relationship with her when she turned 18 years old.
Dames was hired as the Red Stars coach in 2013 and reminded in his position until 2021, making him the longest-tenured coach in NWSL history.
In 2018, Dames was the subject of an investigation spurred by claims made by Christen Press, who filed a formal complaint against the Red Stars coach with U.S. Soccer. Whisler was made aware of the complaints against Dames but told the Chicago Sun-Times that the concerns brought to him didn’t rise to the level of abuse.
On Nov. 21, Dames resigned from his post as head coach, with a late-night statement released at 11:54 pm. The announcement came a day before the publishing of the Washington Post story detailing verbal and emotional abuse allegations against Dames.
“The decision to allow Rory to step down after the championship match was allowing the players to finish the season that they wanted to finish,” Whisler told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We conducted an internal workplace assessment with a third-party sports psychologist and others and made sure that the environment was safe to continue.”
According to Hensley-Clancy, the Chicago Red Stars were made aware of the Washington Post’s reporting and their plans to publish days prior to Dames’s resignation, calling into question the club’s decision to allow the coach to leave on his own terms rather than be terminated for cause.
Whisler’s decision to let Dames retire in the middle of the night, apparently instead of being terminated, hasn’t received a ton of scrutiny yet, but it’s certainly worth looking at. We’d told them about our story, and what we planned to report, days earlier https://t.co/q8lMCkVxQL— Molly Hensley-Clancy (@mollyhc) February 11, 2022
Whisler didn’t initially speak publicly about the Dames case, waiting 82 days to address the media after the Washington Post’s initial report.
The Red Stars owner tells the Chicago Sun-Times that he doesn’t feel it is his time to leave the organization, despite pressure from fan groups to sell his shares. Whisler adds that no party has inquired about acquiring the club from him.
A permanent head coach has yet to be named, with the Chicago Red Stars beginning their 2022 campaign in Houston, taking on the Dash on March 20 in the team’s Challenge Cup opener.
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