LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - It was a letter that made her mother cry. A public argument between a girl's father and soccer coach led 6-year-old Leah Mitchell to write an apology letter to her coach.
"It just broke my heart that she thought she had done something wrong to cause this argument," said Leah's mother, Erica Berry.
"I was just kicking the ball out of bounds," said Mitchell.
Berry said it all went down after a Greater Lafayette Regional Soccer Association practice last week. She said her fiance approached Leah's coach to ask her a question about Leah's playing time.
That's when the coach's husband, Jeremiah Adriano, approached her fiance, asking him to step away from his wife.
"He (Adriano) was yelling," said Mitchell.
"He (Adriano) threatened (my fiance), he said 'Hit me, hit me,' numerous times," said Berry. "Of course, that never happened, but he made threats against (my fiance) and just told him that he was going to call the police."
Adriano also coaches. This is the second complaint News 18 has received about Adriano's behavior at soccer games and practices, and the second time it has been brought to our attention that Adriano has a criminal history of battery.
"I was shocked. I thought that GLRSA would not hire or have volunteer coaches that have such an extensive criminal history," said Berry. "Not just a criminal history, but a violent criminal history."
GLRSA President Rodney Tucker said he was made aware of the situation between Adriano and Leah's father. He said upon investigation, he decided to suspend Leah's father for one game, saying the organization will not tolerate that type of behavior toward volunteer coaches.
Tucker did not want to appear on camera, but issued this statement in regard to Adriano, saying, "If we remotely thought any kids were in danger with Jeremiah (Adriano) coaching, he wouldn't be coaching. That is a guarantee."
Tucker also emphasizes the organization uses the Indiana Sexual Offender Registry when conducting background checks. He said Adriano was not found on that registry.
Yet, Berry said checking the sexual offender registry is not enough, and said the children in the organization deserve more.
"I'm really glad that they look for sexual offenders, but obviously, that's not the only thing we have on the field," said Berry. "Obviously, we have a coach who has a violent past, he's been convicted of battery and he's coaching younger children."
Tucker said he understands the parents' concerns and said the GLRSA is working to improve their background check policy.
"At our upcoming planning meeting in November, we will be discussing, as a board, "Is this enough of a background check or do we need to do more?' " said Tucker. "We recognize that we might need to make some changes in our current process, but we need to first better understand what those changes might be."
News 18 contacted Jeremiah Adriano for comment, but have so far not heard from him.
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