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I-Team: Malden Little League Coach Has Lengthy Criminal Record

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV
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Len Palmer

Len Palmer

For The Kids

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — Len Palmer, Junior high tails it with the I-Team in tow, running through a parking garage and a mall in Cambridge until we catch up with him a few blocks away.

Palmer yelled, “I don’t want to talk with you so just get away from me.”

Palmer’s rap sheet spans decades, there are 41 charges in 28 years. It includes convictions for drug possession, assault and battery, multiple OUI’s and breaking and entering. Even multiple restraining orders for threats of domestic violence.

So we wanted to ask this career criminal what he’s doing on the little league field in Malden coaching young kids?

We went over Palmer’s criminal history with Dan Lebowitz who heads up Northeastern University’s Center for Sport in Society.

He says the baseball field is a classroom without walls and isn’t the right place for someone with a lengthy criminal background.

Lebowitz said, “Would we have let this person be a teacher because it’s the same population? And if the answer is, no we wouldn’t want him as a teacher, then they shouldn’t be a sport coach. You’re trying to get a lesson across in sports, it’s a teachable moment.”

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports.

But the I-Team found the ex-con on the diamond as one of the coaches of the Spinners at the Malden West Little League which is an official chartered member of Little League Baseball.

The league checks to make sure coaches aren’t sex offenders, and it does criminal background checks. It’s all part of Little League Baseball’s Child Protection Program.

According to police reports Len Palmer’s been combative and belligerent during arrests and even smashed plexiglass and a light in his cell.

We contacted Little League Baseball in Williamsport, PA. The vice-president of league operations tells the I-Team when they do background checks they mainly look for crimes against children, and if someone has a lengthy criminal record it’s up to the local league to decide.

Ryan Jordan is a parent and a coach of the Malden West Lugnuts. He said, “What kind of role model is he going to be if he’s trying to teach a kid? It’s not setting a good example. My theory is sports keeps you out of the courts. Apparently it didn’t work out for him.”

Dan Lebowitz adds, “I believe people deserve second chances, but they deserve them in certain venues. You want to look at the length of the issues, the number of repeated incidents there are. It’s just smart judgment that if you have repeated incidents certain venues.”

Jim Nestor, the head of the Malden West Little League sent a statement saying, in part, that the league is committed to providing a fun, safe and competitive atmosphere for kids to learn the game of baseball.

The League reviewed Len Palmer’s criminal records and took into account its past experiences with Mr. Palmer and decided to allow him to coach. Malden West says they never received any complaints about Len Palmer.

Officials at Little League Baseball in Williamsport say the League provides each local league 125 free criminal background checks each season.

If you have a tip for the I-Team email Joe and Kathy at ITEAM@WBZTV.COM.

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