Youth baseball umpire is charged with failing to register as a sex offender

SWANSEA, IL (KTVI) - Police say they’ve arrested a child sexual predator after he umpired baseball and softball games for elementary students in Smithton Illinois. Apparently no official knew he was a sex offender list.

The suspect, 50-year-old Dennis G. Cotton is from Swansea. While investigating, police discovered a misunderstanding that permits sex offenders to take umpiring jobs at children’s games. Cops want a new law put in place.

The students were in 7th and 8th graders.

Police said Cotton applied for and received certification from the Illinois High School Association. Smithton School officials assumed since Cotton was certified then he must have undergone a background check. The IHSA does not do background checks. Smithton employed Cotton for 8 games.

School officials sent a letter home telling parents what happened, at this point it’s believed that no children were harmed.  Smithton school superintendent Susan Homes said, “I think there should be some type of a law that requires a background check and a thorough background check.”

Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said, “I checked with other schools and other superintendents I didn’t know that I thought they (IHSA) did I thought that was why they have the patch on the sleeve you would expect if you have an individual coaching the game standing behind your child there was a background check done”.

Cotton is charged with one felony count of failure to register as a sex offender and four counts of unlawful presence in a public park by a child sex offender.

The police chief did not blame the school district or the IHSA but he said something needs to be done to protect the kids.

Bond for Cotton has been set at $40,000.  He’s being held in the St. Clair County Jail.