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Attorney: Ex-AAU chief innocent of abuse claims

ESPN reported last week that two former basketball players have accused Dodd of molesting them as children in Memphis and other locations.

Attorney Steve Farese Sr. met with Dodd in Orlando on Wednesday and said he has been retained to represent Dodd’s interests in the investigation.

Memphis police have said they are looking into accusations made against Dodd in the media and by the AAU but have not received any formal complaint from the accusers.

Dodd has not been charged with any crime, but Farese said the damage to his reputation has already been done.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the media for conducting an Alice in Wonderland trial: That is, first the punishment, then the trial,” Farese said. “He’s already been convicted in the court of public opinion.”

Farese said the 63-year-old Dodd is “very, very ill” and will not be speaking to the media. Dodd has colon cancer and the AAU says he will not be returning to the organization.

One of Dodd’s accusers is 43-year-old Ralph West, who alleged that Dodd fondled him, tried to fondle him or masturbated in front of him at Dodd’s home in Memphis, the AAU Junior Olympics in South Bend, Ind., and tournaments in Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee. The other accuser spoke to ESPN anonymously and accused Dodd of molesting him at Dodd’s home.

Both men said news reports about the Penn State child sex abuse case prompted them to independently confront Dodd in November.

West said he doesn’t plan to sue Dodd and said the publicity of the case has served his purpose.

“It’s not about revenge and maliciousness,” West told Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal. “What I wanted was him away from the kids.”

Farese said Dodd is “absolutely” innocent but it is being put in the difficult position of proving a negative.

“I’m tilting at windmills,” Farese said.

Dodd coached AAU basketball teams in Memphis before joining the organization’s national staff more than 20 years ago. AAU spokesman Ron Sachs said Dodd had been an executive there since the 1990s. He was put on indefinite leave with pay on Nov. 14 because of the accusations. Late last week the organization severed its ties with Dodd.

Sachs said the parting does not reflect any conclusion as to Dodd’s guilt or innocence, but was done out of an abundance of caution to maintain trust in the AAU’s ability to protect the children in its programs.

The AAU oversees about 30 sports programs for all ages nationwide, including major sports like football, basketball and baseball to bocce ball, baton twirling and competitive jump rope. It says 500,000 athletes and 50,000 volunteers participate in its programs.

AAU President Louis Stout said on Wednesday that the organization has established two independent task forces established to review child safety protocols, policies and procedures. The groups — focused on youth protection and adult volunteering screening — are expected to recommend any changes to AAU’s current policies by February.

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