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May 23, 2014 2:03 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Sex offender stops volunteering with team after parent's research

TUCSON - A man is no longer helping a youth soccer team after a parent figured out he is a convicted sex offender.

Milissa Bell researched the sex offender, who is in his 40s, after she read text messages between her 12-year-old daughter and him. When she searched the man's name, the first link was his prison record.

He wanted to take the girl on a fishing trip. In one message he wrote, "A woman that is funny, outgoing, smart and self confident are rare and if a guy cant handle it he isn't worth the time. You are all of those things. You just don't seem to hear it enough. You are awesome," according to screenshots Bell provided.

"My heart just dropped down to the floor," she said. "I wish that I would have done a little bit more research when my instinct first kicked in about him."

Bell called Tucson Police. An officer was at her home within a few minutes.

"It's not something we take lightly," Tucson Police Sgt. Chris Widmer said. "So in this case, this isn't something that we're blowing off. It's something that doesn't meet the criteria for criminal activity."

Because of the lack of new charges, News 4 Tucson chose not to reveal the man's name.

Bell was upset he was so involved in the team and had so much access to her daughter.

"He shouldn't have been there in the first place," she said. "So I hope this makes them change their policy. Maybe check who they do have working for them underneath their league. And that in the future, they will be more diligent."

USA Youth Sports President, Ed Payan, declined an interview request. In an email, he wrote the man was not officially a coach or volunteer. He was the godfather of a child on the team. In a phone conversation, he said the league will re-evaluate policies to try to prevent something like this from happening again.

The man went to prison for Sexual Abuse and Molestation of a Child, according to public records. He is a registered level-1 sex offender, the least dangerous level, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. His name does not appear on the DPS sex offender web site, because he is level 1.

Bell said she constantly checks her daughter's phone, and the girl is not allowed to use it after 8:30 p.m.

"Be aware of who your kids are talking to. If they have a cell phone, check it. It doesn't matter if they get upset," Bell said. "12-year-olds don't really know as much as they like to think they know, so you have to keep on top of it."

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