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

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

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.

  • Carol S

    What was your point of this report. That parents don’t want to volunteer for their kid’s sports teams…When was the last time this guy was convicted or arrested of anything. If it was more than 3 years ago then leave him alone. Give him a chance. In you report you said this guy was one of the Coaches so it isn’t like a teacher in a class who is alone witht he kids. Give me a break with your chasing him down, what did you want from him??? to blow up an prove you right, well he didn’t. SHAME on you, I would expect his from Channel 7 or Fox… Stick to the real news and STOP the personal attacks.

    • Ralph

      People that think because there is no record on some teachers and coaches, that they are who you want coaching your child. Those people that you know nothing about, they can be harmful to your child and you would’nt even know it! There is some good that can come from coaches that have had trouble in their past, and if the parents know the coach, their children get valuable lessons in life that you or any of your so called ” Clean People” can provide! And did you mention that they do it for free!!! Carol I agree with you all the way, stop punishing people that have already paid their dues!!!

    • Suzanne Lloyd

      i thought public stoning was against the law. This was terrible and I will no longer tune into this station again. I’ve known Lenny all my life he’s a great father and friend. I do believe he has paid his debt to society and is trying to do the right thing for his son. I agree with Carol S GIVE ME A BREAK CHASING HIM DOWN, WHAT DID YOU WANT FROM HIM????? Proud of you Lenny for not letting them get the best of you my friend. Lots of Love your friend always

  • Scott C

    I only wish Lenny said to the reporter that he was performing community service. And what gives your reporter the right to harass him? Was your station trying to bait him into doing something? IMHO Lenny handled the situation very well.

  • James J

    Hack story by a hack reporter. There have been no complaints to the league about this coach. Why is this on television?

  • AliceQ

    I’m with the above commenters — What Is Your Point? A man doing his part, living his life, hurting no one, a fellow human “trying” —- You reporters haven’t roused my sympathy in this crass effort to ‘nail’ a what, miscreant? He’s NOT! Find a real story. Leave this man alone. Find something that makes the viewer say Good Show. This does not.

  • Jane K.

    tTo Kathy Curran what gives you the right to blast his face his name his crimes all over the tv yes hes working with the lttle league and of course they know
    of his background who the hell are you to go around messing with his lifeso you can have a story I think you are a very cruel heartless selflish person for the sake of a two minute stoy when all he is doing is trying to go on with his life
    god knows life is hard enough as it isgetting a job is hard enough and you have to find somebody that would even have it harder not to menchen did you look at anything good he does or think about his family or did you not think they could be people with feelings to I thought your story sucked and was a waste and over the line next time sell it to the enquire.sincerly Jane K.

  • redneck

    lets do a background check on the I-TEAM and lets see what Pops UP!!!!!

  • PAT

    THEGUY IS TRYING TOO DO THE RIGHT THING …who on the i team does not like him

  • PAT


  • blackbear1

    Very questionable job done by I – Team. Smacks of sensationalism, etc.. I have seen other similar performances in the past. Some day a reporter may place him or herself in danger. A few other negative comments prior should tell you something.

  • eddwal50

    sorry katie I can not agree with you on his being evil unless you can tell me when his last arrest and conviction were .were there any convivtions for domestic violence? or just restaining orders you want to talk about a teachable moment i had a teacher who said we had to stop the commies in vietnam or the dominos would fall well he was wrong so are you

  • Dave1

    I think the I-team…the whole station should be charged with defamation. You guys just lost one viewer.

  • Derby

    I think the point is there are RULES that are not being abided to! You are supposed to protect the CHILDREN. He never should have been coaching in the first place. If he wants to do community service then work with the elderly. Take them for walks or read to them. I blame the Malden Little League for not following through with Cory Checks. He can have all his friends talk bad about the reporter but TRUTH is TRUTH.

    • Baseballmom

      Derby, the report indicates the League did follow the rules. The made sure he didn’t have any sex offenses which is what Little League International requires. (re-read the report above). This story didn’t say how old these charges are, etc. the report also said that the League had no complaints against the guy. What’s the issue?

    • victor s


  • lynlyn

    I happen to know that the mother of his child who has lost custody of the child and about to lose custody of her other child (by another man) was the one who put them up to this. Her record is much worse and does involve endangerment of a child, slapping a child in public, fraud, theft, multiple drug convictions, shoplifting for drug money, etc. Pure revenge on her part. You want to do a story, do one on her and leave the poor guy alone who is just trying to raise his son and doing the right thing. I agree wholeheartedly with the other comments. It definitely smells of sensationalism and is worthy of sitting on the bottom of a bird cage a la The Enquirer. Kathy Curran should hang her head in shame. It’s people like her, chasing down an individual who got Princess Diana killed. And watching the piece she did, she very well may cause someone to run into traffic some day and be struck and killed by a truck or automobile. Get a real life, will ya!

    • Debbie Lloyd Paschal

      I agree with you 100%…..( lynlyn )….hey channel 4 go find Lennys baby mama…and see who the bad person is…love you Lenny

      • Suzanne Lloyd

        I think this is horrible how dare the media harass Lenny like this they don.t know him!!!!!!!! He’s a great guy and father. Keep your chin up my longtime friend you did an excellent job in handling this situation.

    • Debbie Lloyd Paschal

      I agree with you 100%…..and could not believe they didnt talk about Lenny being a great dad…and his baby mama a big time LOSER!!…just all garbage to air and make someone look bad..about something that had nothing to do with him coaching….

  • mikey

    When I was a Cub Scout leader, I had to deal with parents that didn’t care. They just wanted to have their kids taken care of. Then one parent came on a campout and he was great with the kids. I tried to recruit him as a leader but he balked. He finally admitted to me he had a criminal record.

    But I’ll tell you what, I would have taken him in a second. He was great with the kids, and people can make mistakes and turn themselves around. Much better than the one parent we never saw out of the tent except to pee because he was drunk all weekend.

    Yeah, this guy sounds like he has issues, and probably shouldn’t have been there, but I think at the ‘national level’ LLB made the right decision and the policy is a good one.

  • Colleen

    I am so disgusted by this story! why would you put innocent kids pictures on a news story like this? I hope the kids do not get bullied for being on tv with this kind of story. what about the poor guys son? the parents of these kids should take legal action against you for putting their kids lives in danger!

  • TD

    I have been a Little League coach for 7 years now as well as a football coach and I know I have to fill out a CORI every season for every sport. I know what they entail and these charges certainly would have come up in a review. Ultimately though, it is up to the town to decide whether they want him or not. I come from the thinking that all coaches should be looked up to. Often these kids just get dropped off and picked up and parents don’t stay. If you knew this, would you drop your kid off to him? I also personally know that the Board of Directors is very close-knit and keeps their cards close to their vest, but what if there was a Little League Policy saying that any coach that returns convictions on their CORI is subject to the Board releasing that information and having the parents and/or other coaches voting on their eligibility rather than the Board just making their own judgment call?

    • Destiny

      I agree with you TD. Why is everyone so upset at the reporter. There is no defamation of character. The reporter told the facts. He is a great guy, good coach and loving father, but those truths do not negate the fact that he has had 41 charges and a number of convictions against him. The league never should have let him coach in the first place. Our children are our most precious items and we entrust them into a coach’s care. The MWLL board has a responsibility to the parents to get the best qualified people to coach. In a world in which few parents step up to help out I admire his willingness to coach. Lenny is a great guy, but his record should disqualify him from coaching. These are not just a few incidents, there are 41 charges and quite a few convictions. What if a tragedy had occurred? Again, MWLL’s primary concern and responsibiliity needs to be to the kids on the teams.

    • Paul Vrooman

      You have all valid points. As a board member in my town I have had the opportunity to review reports on potential coaching applicants. I will also add when a CORI of this type comes back my first reaction is no, which is in my opinion the correct response as it is the boards job to protect the players. Then as a board we discuss it, in 99% of the cases members on the board are familiar with the applicant and a interview is used on some occasions, we also have discussed the applicant with the local police for opinions. If you were on the board and interviewed Lenny you would see why life long acquaintances are coming forward on his behalf. Putting aside some character flaws, Lenny is a harmless lovable person. I would say Malden did not rush to judgment in allowing him on the field and made the right call.

      • TD

        I understand Paul. I must reiterate that I have no issue with Lenny or his history or this report. I care about the kids of our future and the game of baseball. I think my point was more to the fact that in order to avoid investigations like these, maybe the Board needs to release that information and have the parents vote anonymously on allowing him as a coach. Ultimately it is the parents that need to trust the coach, not the league. If that were to happen, then everything is out in the open and when the iTeam decides to try something like this again, the whole town can say they already know and voted him in. Just a thought.

  • Dan McBrain

    What a bad report. Last week…same thing.
    How about some real reporting?
    You actually chase this guy down in the street? WBZ should be ashamed of themselves. This is not investigative reporting…just very poor reporting. If I was the person in question, I would hire a lawyer and sue WBZ.

  • Debbie Lloyd Paschal

    I have known Lenny my whole life…yea he might of done wrong but who hasnt…what you failed to mention is that Lenny is a father of a young son and a very good father at that…Lenny is a good man and you should get all your facts right before airing someone on TV as a bad person…yes like I said he has done things in his past just like everyone has,,,but this should not of been put on tv…had nothing to do with him coaching baseball…love you Lenny…

  • George of Boston

    This is why our country and communities are all messed up and why President Obama has limited to certain media outlets to cover Presidential visits. Its because the press over presses. Leave this cheep journalism Esquire type reporting up to Inside Edition or TMZ and Foz25 and BZ back to responsible reporting of the daily issues effecting Boston. Thank You..

  • NJ Bill

    You people could have done a great story about a man who has had trouble in his past but is working to turn his life around. This would have been inspiring and uplifting. Instead you choose to harass a guy who has already paid his debt to society, I think they mainly check for people who have harmed children….. This guy has none of that on his record.

    The only word that comes to mind is “Pathetic” you have just lost a viewer.

  • Elaine Morelli Vrooman

    I also have known Lenny all my life and yes he may have had trouble with the law, but he has turned his life around and trying to do something good for the kids. I agree with NJ Bill you could of had an inspiring story of how he became a better person but you didn’t, shame on you. Hang in there Lenny! your friend always
    Elaine M

  • CJ Snowdon

    CJ Snowdon

    I have known Lenny since the day he was born, life has not always been easy for him. I am very proud of him, he is a great dad! Why would you do this to someone who is trying his very best to be a wonderful father? By doing this story you have hurt a young child and the bond he has with his father. I was in shock to see this article airing on your channel. I now see channel 4 in a new light BULLY. After turning to channel 4 to find the latest news and weather for over 40 years, I will now look elsewhere. I want no part of involvement with people who would be this nasty to a man that has never injured any children. All he was doing was volunteering his time to be with his child playing sports.

  • RT Copp

    WBZ4 is the bottom feeder of Boston News channels. The reporting is cheap shots and sensational garbage. Lay off this guy and everyone else you jumped all over before using your common sense. I would love to look up the backgrounds of the reporters and the staff of this station. If your going to report the news you better be squeaky clean and if your not you should’nt get a second chance. Let the guy coach and let the kids play ball!

  • glimby

    after reading the blogs and only one perso said
    that he shouldn’t be coaching kids.i believe that channel 4 owes
    this person a follow up story and a public apology.

  • lynlyn


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