A central figure in the Amateur Athletic Union sexual abuse scandal spoke with Memphis police for the first time on Monday, and afterward told "Outside the Lines" that he would "probably" file a formal criminal complaint against former AAU president and chief executive officer Bobby Dodd if asked.
The conversation between former player Ralph West and a detective and member of the sex crimes unit occurred just after the conclusion of a press conference in Memphis, where Dave Martello, deputy chief of investigative services, said that Memphis police could not file charges without a formal complaint lodged by an alleged victim of Dodd.
West, 43, who alleges he was sexually abused a half dozen times during the 1980s, said Memphis police called him. He said he related many of the same anecdotes and details of molestation and other inappropriate touching that he shared with "Outside the Lines" in a story that first was made public Friday.
"I gave them a statement over the phone," West told "Outside the Lines." "I told them about the voyeurism, the hair, everything. They're telling me they're investigating, and they'll get back to me in a couple of days."
West said he wasn't asked during the phone call to file a complaint -- surprising to him because he watched the press conference live on the Internet and Martello "seemed to be sending a smoke signal" that that's what police need to pursue a formal investigation that could lead to charges.
"If there's anyone out there (who alleges harm), call police and report that," Martello said. "That's when our office can make a decision."
Martello said that the AAU approached Memphis police and provided "information" about alleged sexual abuse involving Dodd on Friday afternoon. That was one day after "Outside the Lines" notified the AAU that it had spoken to former players who had alleged abuse against Dodd, the organization's top executive since 1992 who since the 1970s has organized elite summer basketball teams in Memphis.
On Thursday evening, an AAU official responded to an "Outside the Lines" request for an interview with Dodd by saying that he had retired on Nov. 29 due to health reasons. At that point, Dodd's departure from the organization had not been announced by the AAU. When contacted by "Outside the Lines" later that evening, Louis Stout, AAU first vice president, also stated Dodd had left the organization for health reasons, and insisted that he was unaware of any sexual abuse allegations.
Ron Sachs, a crisis-management expert hired by the AAU, said Stout did not tell the truth that evening -- that in fact Stout and other AAU officers had been made aware of the sexual abuse allegations on Nov. 11 and they placed Dodd on indefinite leave three days later, because the AAU had hired a private investigator and was in the midst of exploring allegations of sexual abuse against Dodd made in messages to the AAU left Nov. 7, 8 and 9.
"He was not being candid with you," Sachs said. "He was trying to protect the investigation. He acknowledges that he made a mistake."
Since then, Sachs said, the Florida-based AAU has taken appropriate actions that help separate the AAU from the much-criticized institutional handling of sexual abuse allegations at Penn State and Syracuse. He said the AAU shared with Memphis police the names of three potential sexual abuse victims who had contacted the organization in early November, including West and another former player who called Dodd before speaking with "Outside the Lines" under the condition of anonymity.
Sachs told ESPN on Monday that among the items turned over to police was an AAU interview with Dodd, who also had his computer seized by the AAU. Dodd denied to AAU officers that he sexually abused the players, according to Sachs.
The Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Office said that there have not been any cases involving Dodd while he's lived in Florida. When asked if there are any current investigations into Dodd, 63, a sheriff's office spokesman said that the office's sex crimes investigator told him "we have not received any requests nor have a reason to investigate Mr. Dodd at this time."
Dodd has not responded to multiple requests for interviews with ESPN.
The second alleged victim that "Outside the Lines" spoke with said he also shared his account for the first time Monday with Memphis police. Unlike West, he told ESPN he is unlikely to file a complaint, largely out of concern that his identity will become public. He also questions whether Memphis police have the tools to make a case, given that the alleged abuse occurred more than 25 years ago and physical evidence may be hard to come by.
"Right now, I'm not thinking about doing more," he said. "I'm more worried about my name coming out. I think the statute of limitations is way gone anyway."
Appearing at the news conference, Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nichols was unable to provide clarity as to whether the statute of limitations laws in Tennessee would apply to events that allegedly occurred involving Dodd. She said the law has changed a half dozen times in the past three decades, suggesting that detectives needed to gather specific information and place it in a timeline before she could make any determination about the viability of pursuing charges.
West also has concerns about filing a formal complaint. He lives in Miami, and said his original goal in sharing his account -- exposing Dodd and getting him removed from a position of power over children -- has been achieved.
"I need to talk with my family," West said. "I'm weighing it. What am I going to have to do -- go back and forth to Memphis? Get an attorney? I don't want to have to retain a lawyer. It depends on what they ask of me. If this guy (Dodd) is ill (with colon cancer), he's going to be gonzo in a year anyway."
Still, he said he's likely to move ahead with a complaint if requested by the police and would make the effort to testify in court against Dodd.
"I'd drive up there myself, just to see him try to deny in my presence what he did to me," said West, who has said he also wants to encourage other alleged victims of Dodd's to come forward.
Tax forms show that the AAU paid Dodd, who is single with no children, $270,000 a year to run its national office, located on the grounds of Walt Disney World Resorts. Disney's 30-year deal with the AAU was signed in 1994, and allows the AAU to host sports events and lease an office building on Walt Disney World Resort property. The AAU moved into that building when the Wide World of Sports complex opened in 1997.
Disney owns ESPN, which is a major sponsor of a variety of AAU programs and broadcasts many AAU events.
Brian Besanceney, senior vice president/public affairs, Walt Disney World & Worldwide Government and Industry Relations, told ESPN on Friday: "ESPN Wide World of Sports hosts hundreds of different organizations for sporting competitions and events each year and none of the organizations, including the AAU, have independent access to these facilities. Our property is comprised of over 28,000 acres, and the AAU office space is not located near a theme park."
Tom Farrey is a reporter with ESPN's Enterprise Unit. He can be reached at email@example.com. Producers Willie Weinbaum and Nicole Noren contributed to this report.