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Football coach caught giving porn site code to players

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A tiny Connecticut community in Fairfield County is dealing with a football pornography scandal after it was discovered that a freshman football coach was providing code access to a pornographic website for his players.

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Staples football field

Staples football field

As reported by the Westport News, a letter was sent to the parents of students at Westport (Conn.) Staples High from Westport Superintendent Elliot Landon that indicated one of the coaches of the school's freshman football team was providing a validation code for a pornographic website to his team's players. The letter marked the conclusion of the school's rapid internal investigation into the coach's behavior, with the unnamed coach in question being relieved of his duties as a result.

"We are investigating this matter fully and are working with the Westport Police Department as part of our investigation," Landon wrote in the email, which the Staples school news source Inklings reported was sent at 10:14 a.m. Wednesday. "We have removed the coach from any contact with students or players."

The coach who provided the password to students has since been recognized as 40-year-old assistant freshman football coach Michael Pickering (who has also worked as a freshman lacrosse coach and maintenance worker at the school). Inklings reported that Pickering has been charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor, a charge which brought with it a bail of $50,000.

It's clear that school officials wasted little time in snuffing out an incident that at least one parent likened to a much more public ongoing sex scandal in the Northeast, and police have now followed with similarly swift action.

"My first thought was, 'This is going to be Penn State all over again — how quickly will it be on the news?'" Melissa Panick, whose son Kyle plays on the Staples freshman football team, told The Daily Westport. "I look to all my children's coaches as mentors and role models, so it's horrifying."

While the coach's actions may have been shocking, Staples principal John Dodig told the Westport News that the school removed the coach from his post within hours of first receiving word of the alleged pornographic activity, and that it planned to cooperate fully with the Westport Police Department in any prosecution against the coach.

Meanwhile, Inklings reported that Dodig was first made aware of the issue after a student who was not on the football team overheard that there was a password for a porn site going around and learned where it came from.

"It can't be true," Dodig told Inklings he thought when first being told of the code by the student. "Who would make a stupid decision like that? I'm very proud of everyone [with how the situation was handled], starting with the student who recognized it was serious.  It would have been very easy to walk away."

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