Cronin: No Ryndak a plus for Crete-Monee
Tim Cronin email@example.com | (708) 633-5948 November 15, 2011 7:20PM
Former Crete-Monee boys basketball coach Matt Ryndak. | File photo
Among the warning signs of a child predator:
1. They have a preoccupation with children.
2. They are overly attentive to your child.
3. They are overly kind and friendly.
4. They have few or no adult relationships.
5. Their families know nothing of their activities.
6. They reach out to children online and ask them to be secretive about the contact.
Updated: December 17, 2011 8:18AM
It is the fear all parents share.
How do they know the adults who teach and coach their children won’t turn out to be sexual predators?
They don’t. And that’s the scary thing.
The overwhelming majority of teachers are upstanding people who want to see their students excel in the classroom and at any extracurricular activities they participate in, from the math club to the football team.
Alas, as in any other profession, there are a few who give the appearance of being upstanding — and are anything but. They prey on the weak, those they believe they can take advantage of to satisfy twisted, sordid desires.
Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of molesting eight children from 1996 to 2004. He professes his innocence, as do two university officials charged with perjury, but the storm that has arisen in the wake of his indictment has stained a great university, toppled a legendary coach, and reportedly, prompted others saying they were victims of Sandusky to come forward.
Until the recent revelations, few knew, and in the closed loop that is Happy Valley, nobody who knew spoke, the perfect atmosphere for a child molester to operate.
Sandusky is alleged to have found his targets through The Second Mile, the charity he started. But predators often take more direct routes.
Matt Ryndak did that. He taught and coached at Crete-Monee for two years, last season as boys basketball head coach. Last fall, according to prosecutors, he molested a teenage boy on at least four occasions. Charged with eight counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, he plea-bargained his way to four years’ probation by pleading guilty to two counts of that charge.
Ryndak was able to teach in the first place because he had a clean record. Since 2004, Illinois has required new teachers, or teachers changing districts, to undergo a criminal background check. That’s been helpful, but isn’t a guarantee that a skunk isn’t lurking in the shadows.
Ryndak had taught at Johnsburg High School in McHenry County before arriving at Crete-Monee. He left Johnsburg abruptly in fall 2008 for reasons unannounced. That alone ought to have been a red flag for Crete officials to look into, but they said nothing appeared untoward.
“It’s a total surprise for all of us,” assistant superintendent George Elrod told the SouthtownStar when Ryndak was charged.
How deeply District 210U officials looked into his past is unclear, but they missed something. Teachers just don’t leave schools in midsemester unless there’s a compelling reason. Ryndak’s leave-taking, and running an AAU basketball program he named Full Package Athletics, might have at least raised an eyebrow.
Parents of the Crete-Monee players were repulsed when the news broke. School officials have not said if the student Ryndak molested was on the team or in his physical education classes, but they took swift action to suspend and then fire Ryndak. Ryndak has to register as a sex offender for life, and never again will hold a job as a teacher.
Unlike Penn State, where a half-century and more of goodwill has been obliterated, Crete-Monee quickly should bounce back from the Ryndak stench. The Warriors have brought in Tom Cappel, a veteran coach with impeccable character and credentials, to guide the team that went 25-4 and advanced to supersectional play last season.
Cappel benefits from the presence of senior guard Michael Orris. The crafty playmaker had committed to Creighton, but after Ryndak’s arrest, came to realize his coach had too closely controlled his college selection. Orris de-committed, and last week signed a National Letter of Intent to go to Illinois.
Students and their parents at Crete-Monee benefit in knowing Ryndak is no longer in the building. But there, and at every other school, church and youth athletic team, the guard cannot be let down. We have seen that background checks are only a start.