Sex Offender Faces Charges for Coaching Kids at Park
Michael Albanese, an ex-youth sports coach from Frankfort, turned himself in to police after a warrant was issued last week. He's charged with three counts of presence of a child sex offender in a public park, police reports state. A Patch Exclusive.
A former boys and girls sports coach with a history of exposing himself to minors was charged with violating child sex offender laws for being in a public park to coach his teams, according to police.
Michael Albanese, 46, of the 11500 block of Tea Tree Lane, faces three misdemeanor counts of presence of a child sex offender in a public park. He turned himself in to Frankfort Police detectives Friday, April 6, said Cmdr. Kevin Keegan. He was released on bond, and his next court date is May 7.
The charges came after an investigation that started earlier this year, Keegan said. Police received an anonymous fax Jan. 31 that stated Albanese had lived in Frankfort since September 2009 and had been coaching youth athletic programs even though he had numerous Cook County convictions between 1986 and 1996 involving incidents where he exposed himself to minor children, Keegan said. The majority of these cases happened in Chicago, but Keegan said he didn't know the exact number.
The fax also mentioned an October 2011 incident in Springfield, WI, where Albanese was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior after three women accused him of masturbating naked near the interstate highway, according to Marquette County Circuit Court records. The case is still pending.
Before the anonymous fax, police also had received information from the Frankfort Park District that some parents had approached district officials with similar concerns about Albanese's criminal history, Keegan said.
Although Albanese is considered a child sex offender, he no longer needs to register with the Illinois Sex Offender Registry, Keegan said. Individuals committing sex offenses before July 24, 1997, only needed to register for 10 years, and 2006 was the last year Albanese was required to register, he added.
Despite not having to register, Albanese still must comply with the laws governing child sex offenders. Some of those restrictions include:
- Not being able to reside within 500 feet of a school, playground or any facility with programs or services exclusively directed at minors, unless the offender owned the property before July 7, 2000.
- Not being allowed unsupervised access or to be in the custody or control of a minor.
- Not knowingly allowed in any public park or building or property making up a park.
After these complaints, the Will County State's Attorney's Office was contacted and began looking at Albanese's Cook County court records to see if charges could be pursued, Keegan said. Meanwhile, Frankfort Police detectives started their investigation to confirm that Albanese had been coaching and that he was on park property during games, Keegan said.
"During that time, we ended up backtracking and talking with the people associated with teams he was involved in," he added.
Investigators determined that Albanese had been coaching various boys baseball and girls softball teams from 2009 to 2011 and that he had been on park grounds coaching teams late last year, Keegan said.
With that information, the State's Attorney's Office drafted the warrant Thursday, April 5. When detectives contacted Albanese about the warrant, he told them that he had been coaching 9- and 10-year-old boys baseball and 11- and 12-year-old girls softball teams in Indiana and Frankfort for the past eight years, Keegan said.
Patch has been able to confirm that Albanese had been associated with teams connected to Frankfort Girls Softball and the Frankfort Flames girls fastpitch softball. Police also confirmed that Albanese coached for the Lincoln-Way Blue Demons Travel Baseball organization, Keegan said.
Messages to Mike Bartos, president of the Blue Demons' board, were not returned.
Rich Behrens, board president for the Frankfort Flames, said Albanese was briefly connected with the organization from September to December of 2011 when he tried to bring a team of eight girls from FGS to the Flames. However, Albanese was let go after the Flames did a background check, Behrens said.
Normally, background checks are conducted in January by the Amateur Softball Association, the group's governing body, before team rosters are set, but the Flames did their own after hearing about the possibility Albanese had a criminal background, Behrens said, adding that Albanese's team only practiced and never played games.
Colin Walsh, the vice president for the FGS board, said Albanese had been a coach, but he wasn't sure when and for how long. Albanese left FGS to coach for a full-time travel softball league, Walsh said, adding that he only found out Wednesday about Albanese's crimes.
Previously, the softball organization had not done background checks on coaches, including Albanese, Walsh said. However, the park district now requires background checks for teams that use its fields, he said. This new mandate was not in response to the Albanese case, Walsh added.
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