A convicted child molester accused of sexually abusing three young athletes he coached in Columbia kept out of the law's grasp for two years by refusing treatment and by lying to his probation officers, court records show.
Probation officials apparently tolerated some of the violations, and when they did try to crack down, a court clerk's error left Tracy Kevin Ward free to pursue his avocation as a youth-league coach.
Mothers of three players who are accusing him of sexual molestation are outraged that the court system allowed Ward to remain free despite numerous apparent probation violations.
"It's as if the children don't matter," said the mother of the 14-year-old baseball player who first reported the alleged sexual abuse.
"[Ward] had the freedom and the time to coach three or four sports. Had whoever done their job, my son wouldn't have this memory."
Ward, 24, is in the middle of a 5-year suspended sentence with 5 years of probation imposed in 1990 for sexually molesting a 12-year-old boy at the Boys Village of Maryland, a state institution for troubled juveniles where Ward was a counselor.
Ward has not served jail time for that crime, although he missed at least eight meetings with probation officers and dropped out of or never attended a handful of treatment programs, court records show.
Probation officers would not answer questions about the case. "It is currently under review and we will have no comment until the review is complete," said Leonard Sipes, spokesman for the state Division of Parole and Probation.
Ward, a laborer who lives in the 5400 block of Cedar Lane in Columbia, was charged last week with child abuse and sexual offense in cases involving a 14-year-old basketball player and a 14-year-old wrestler. He was first charged in May for allegedly masturbating on a 14-year-old baseball player on a deserted Columbia field.
Ward's 1990 sentence included requirements that he undergo treatment at a sex offenders' clinic and stay away from young people.
As a result of Ward's arrest in May, his probation officer filed a report with the Prince George's Circuit Court. The report showed that Ward was continually pressed to enter a treatment program by county mental health officials and probation officers. But they say he was in what psychologists call "denial," meaning he didn't want treatment and he didn't feel he needed it.
He routinely missed appointments, actions that then compelled programs to refuse to treat him, according to court records.
In April 1991, the county Mental Health Clinic refused to see him because he had failed to keep a previous appointment. On that earlier occasion, Ward had gone to the clinic, filled out papers and left, saying he did not have time to wait for treatment.
The clinic did not want to reschedule him because he didn't make use of the time when he was there and the clinic was overbooked, according to a report filed by probation officer Alan Feikin.
After he was thrown out of that program, Ward was charged with having violated his probation by not paying court costs, by not meeting with his officer and by not seeking treatment, according to court documents.
When the case came up in October, however, it was thrown out after a Prince George's County Circuit Court clerk failed to notify his probation officer of the hearing.
Ward was transferred to another probation officer in Ellicott City the next month.
In December 1991, the University of Maryland's Special Offenders Clinic rejected treating Ward because he appeared unmotivated and denied he had a problem, according to the report.
In January, Ward told his probation officer that Dr. Jill Midthune of the county health department would help him coordinate a treatment program with Johns Hopkins Hospital. But when the probation officer contacted Dr. Midthune, she said Ward had not talked to her since December, according to the report.
At their next meeting in February, Ward admitted to his probation officer that he had lied about trying to get treatment.
In March, after Ward failed to apply, his probation officer suggested he go to a private clinic where he could enroll for a reduced fee. Although Ward did go to the clinic once in April, he failed to keep his next appointment, according to his probation officer's report.