A Canberra basketball official has been banned for life from any involvement in the sport after an independent panel found she had engaged in inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature towards a junior player.
The woman, who at this stage The Canberra Times has chosen not to name, was found to have breached Basketball Australia member protection standards after alleged incidents involving a player she coached.
Basketball ACT referred a complaint to Basketball Australia at the end of last year, triggering an investigation into the alleged conduct in January. The initial findings were appealed before the punishment was upgraded to a lifetime ban this week.
The woman was issued a "notice of charge", alleging breaches which included engaging in harassment and/or abuse against a child by engaging in sexual activity or other inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature with a child.
She was also allegedly involved in "an intimate relationship with a child who was under the age of 18" and directly under the woman's supervision at the time.
The conduct was alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2011 at various locations, including Canberra, Adelaide and the United States, and started when the player was just 14 years old.
The official, through a spokesperson, said she was devastated by the findings and denied wrongdoing.
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"She is devastated that the governing authority of a sport she loves so much has made this decision after police have investigated the matter and dismissed it. She is steadfast in her denial of wrongdoing."
The woman, who until recently had a senior role at a Canberra club, was initially slapped with a five-year ban after fronting the independent panel hearing, but both she and Basketball Australia appealed the decision.
"The Basketball Australia Integrity Unit investigated an historical member protection matter whereby an ACT coach was alleged to have been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a minor," a Basketball Australia spokesperson said.
The woman was issued a "notice of charge" and permitted an independent disciplinary tribunal and an independent appeal tribunal.
"Each tribunal determined that the respondent did breach Basketball Australia's Member Protection Policy," the spokesperson said.
"As a result, the independent appeal tribunal has imposed on the respondent a lifetime ban from all basketball activities, competitions and events under the jurisdiction of Basketball Australia."
Basketball ACT was anonymously made aware of the allegations late last year and immediately referred the matter to Basketball Australia.
It's understood the matter has previously been referred to ACT Policing, but a police spokesperson was unable to say if it had investigated the allegations made against the woman. It's understood the matter was referred to the police again when the latest investigation was launched.
"ACT Policing maintains a victim-centred approach to investigations and protects the privacy of people who report matters such as sexual offences," the ACT Policing spokesperson said.
Basketball ACT notified clubs of the panel's findings on Thursday and published its own statement.
"Basketball ACT takes the safety of our members and integrity of the sport seriously and has worked cooperatively with Basketball Australia and the relevant reporting authorities in investigating this matter," the statement said.
"This is obviously an extremely sensitive issue for all involved and we would strongly encourage our community to avoid fuelling rumours or speculation (particularly on social media) or doing anything that could create additional harm to those involved."
The woman has been involved in basketball in a variety of roles in Canberra over an almost 20-year association with the sport as a player, administrator, coach and volunteer.
The alleged breaches fall under Basketball Australia's 2009 version of the national framework of ethical behaviour and integrity in basketball.
In its Child Safeguarding Policy framework, which was adopted in December 2022 with updated language, Basketball Australia states it has "a zero-tolerance policy to child abuse and neglect in any form".
"Basketball Australia, along with Basketball ACT and all state and territory partners, maintains a strong stance in matters of child safeguarding and member protection, and is committed to ensuring those who are found to have breached such policies are held accountable," a Basketball Australia spokesperson said.
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