A Stanberry, Mo., business owner stands accused of two sex charges, while a lack of communication brings into question his alleged participation in a youth basketball league.
On July 20, Steven R. Parsons, 46, was charged in Gentry County with statutory sodomy in the second degree, a class C felony, and forcible sodomy, for allegedly having sex with a girl under 17.
While Mr. Parsons’ case continues to proceed, questions were raised about whether he was allowed to coach teenagers while the charges were pending.
On Feb. 15, a call was made to the News-Press by a concerned citizen and a relative of a child participating in the St. Joseph National Junior Basketball league, alleging Mr. Parsons was coaching a boys’ basketball team.
A day later, Marc Lewis, chapter president of the St. Joseph NJB, confirmed that a person named Steve Parsons was a coach of one of the teams. “The Steve Parsons that coaches for NJB runs a business in Maryville. He runs Parsons’ Tire in Maryville,” he said.
Answering the phone at Parsons Tire and Battery in Maryville, Mo., Mr. Parsons confirmed he was coaching a basketball team in St. Joseph. When asked about the charges, he denied them.
“No. Please don’t bother me with stupid things like that,” he said, before hanging up the phone.
A search by the News-Press ran into several snags. Calls to Mr. Parsons’ attorney were not returned. The probable cause statement, which details the allegations leveled against Mr. Parsons, was sealed from the public, due to a juvenile’s name being mentioned in the document. Weeks later, a statement of the original charge was produced.
Although court records show a warrant being issued to Mr. Parsons on July 20, no mug shot of the suspect was able to be produced to confirm if it was the same person. The Gentry County sheriff’s office and Gentry County Prosecutor Jerome Biggs wouldn’t comment on the case, stating they were prohibited from talking about ongoing cases.
For Mr. Lewis, he said he was placed in a tough position, in which he wasn’t comfortable bringing up the allegations solely based on someone’s word.
“If he tells me ‘It’s not me,’ without any proof, I can’t readily condemn the guy,” Mr. Lewis said on Feb. 17.
While the charges remain allegations, Mr. Parsons wouldn’t appear on any sex offender list unless convicted.
“I put out a couple of calls to him and got his cell phone answering machine. I’ve asked him to call me, but he hasn’t called me back,” Mr. Lewis said.
Following a case review hearing on March 8, in which Mr. Parsons waived his appearance, several court records were able to be obtained tying him to the coaching position.
Comparing Missouri court records to state business registration reports, the same address was shared with the person charged and the owner of the tire shop in Maryville and Stanberry.
“Yeah, I think that’s him,” Mr. Lewis said on Thursday.
Tying the two together came too late, as the NJB Boy’s basketball season ended recently. Mr. Lewis said he’s disappointed they weren’t able to address the situation.
Stating the National Junior Basketball league conducts background checks and fingerprinting, Mr. Lewis said this was an unfortunate case that slipped through the cracks.
“We ask for volunteer coaches and typically, the ones that step forward are fathers and mothers of players in the league. ... I’d say 99 percent of the time,” he said. “We have never had anything like this happen before.”
Unsure if another season for the NJB in St. Joseph will take place, Mr. Lewis said they will have to look harder into the league’s applicants, a job the NJB leaves up to them to do.
“Applications for coaches are run through the chapter and they have full authority to approve or disapprove. We only get involved when fingerprinting issues are brought up,” an NJB spokesperson said, Apologetic and disappointed for the mistake, Mr. Lewis vowed that it won’t happen again.
“His season is over and he’s not going to be coaching anymore. He definitely won’t be asked to coach again,” he said.
Andrew Gaug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.