Former girls' basketball referee Stephen Amador gets jail for groping players during Lakewood games

Amador case caused CHSAA to background referees

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - A former girls' basketball referee was sentenced Friday to jail and probation for groping student players during games at Lakewood high schools.

Jefferson County Judge Susan Fisch sentenced Stephen Amador, 53, of Lakewood, to four years of probation and 60 days in jail on a work release program, said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

Amador must also register as a sex offender.

Fisch called Amador's behavior to be an utter abuse of trust.

In December 2012 and January 2013, at two different basketball games at Lakewood high schools, Amador unlawfully touched the breasts and buttocks of four different girls for sexual gratification, prosecutors said.

During a three-day trial in January, the victims testified about being touched by Amador during the games while they were on the basketball court. A jury found Amador guilty of nine misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual contact.

At the Friday sentencing hearing, the court heard that the mandatory sex offender evaluation of Amador found that he was a moderate to high risk to reoffend.

Amador's arrest spurred changes at the Colorado High School Activities Association, where Amador was a registered referee, certified to officiate at CHSAA sanctioned games. For seven years, Amador officiated at games for metro area athletic leagues and school districts, including Jefferson County Public Schools and Denver Public Schools.

At the time, CHSAA didn't conduct criminal background checks on its 4,000 to 5,000 referees, who are classified as independent contractors.

The association didn't know that Amador had previously been arrested in Denver in 1991 on a felony sexual assault charge, and pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of misdemeanor assault, according to court records. In a separate case, he pleaded guilty to harassment in Douglas County later in 1991. 

After the fallout from the Amador case, CHSAA in June 2013 began requiring anyone who wants to register as an official with CHSAA to have an arrest background check run by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Existing referees have to continue to have CBI checks run every three years, said CHSAA Assistant Commissioner Bert Borgmann.

CHSAA is also studying best practices at other states in an effort to improve referee background checks, Borgmann said.

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