Disgraced former track and field coach Ato Stephens has threatened legal action against the Cayman Islands Athletics Association for what he describes as an ‘unlawful expulsion’ and a ‘violation of his fundamental human rights.’
It follows the CIAA’s decision to ban him from membership on 27 November 2017. CIAA President Lance Barnes confirmed Mr. Stephens’ threat of legal action to Cayman 27.
“I can confirm we received a letter from Mr. Stephens this morning (9th February) claiming the process wasn’t done properly.”
Mr. Stephens originally was sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation in August after he was found guilty of misuse of an ICTA network in relation to the photos exchanged with a then 14-year-old girl whom he coached. Barnes says the Athletics Association’s executive committee voted to ban him permanently shortly after.
“We did ban him last year, and we have seven days to respond to his letter.”
In the letter, Stephens says “The CIAA is in violation of its own constitution when they violated the procedures for a fair and lawful hearing thus violating my rights to a fair trial under Human Rights Act 1998, Section 6.” Barnes says Stephens’ attempts to seemingly regain membership into the athletics association has parents outraged.
“They’re not happy, some are willing to withdraw their support from the association. This concerns me because we will be hosting CARIFTA 2019 in Cayman, so we need everyone’s support especially parents, so this really concerns me and I believe we really have to do the right thing.”
To complicate matters, Stephen’s wife, Athletics Association Technical Director and executive committee member Cydonie Mothersill is apart of the group that will determine his fate if in fact a disciplinary hearing takes place. Barnes refutes the relationship will create a conflict during the decision making process.
“I believe we make fair decisions and she doesn’t make decisions on her own.”
In February 2017, government introduced the ‘Child Protection Policy decision to safeguard children and designate officers within each sports association. Barnes says Stephens’ threats are troubling.
“As President, yes I am concerned. I believe we have done the best we can do and have followed the instructions of our constitution.”
Many hope the final decision in this matter keeps young athletes safe.