Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are having a lovely week and have some plans this weekend that will put a smile on your face.
This will be a rather subdued CWTC for reasons that many of you can imagine: MLS has finally released the results of their independent investigation into the Caps’ handling of sexual assault allegations against Bob Birarda and Harold Busby.
I will begin by noting that, while I professionally parse documents like this, I am not an expert on the entire distressing history here. I obviously am aware of the allegations and the recent history there, however, and think the Rubin Thomlinson report does a pretty good job of laying out the investigation’s scope, methodology and potential shortcomings.
First things first, the report largely exonerates the Caps on one key point:
But I would argue this is about all the good news for the organization here. The investigations conducted at the organization’s behest were “superficial and lacking in depth,” “rushed” and were limited in the number of individuals interviewed and physical evidence reviewed.
The investigator obviously is not a law enforcement official and they cannot execute search warrants or seek subpoenas. But the investigator did not even prepare any written report, a shocking revelation that really calls into question what the hell anyone was thinking in all this.
The report does not fault the Caps for this, largely absolving them of blame for being an organization with limited HR and experience in handling these types of allegations. This, in my opinion, is bunk. We all know or should know right from wrong. Relying on what the club should have realized was a limited report and recommendations for discipline for Birarda that even the Rubin Thomlinson report acknowledged were insufficent? That’s wrong.
There also is some pretty serious conflict between the Rubin Thomlinson report and the McLaren report, released last week at the behest of Canada Soccer. I would say a good chunk of the McLaren report, at the very least, calls into sharp relief the inadequacies of the club’s response. At worst it undercuts the MLS commissioned report.
Again, the Rubin Thomlinson report is pretty straightforward about its shortcomings, including a paucity of former players interviewed. They also didn’t review the severance agreement with Birarda because only the Caps agreed for it to be reviewed (the report did question its arrangement based on other evidence reviewed). This perhaps leads to the surprisingly short length (15 pages).
No amount of reports will rectify past mistakes but this pretty clearly show the Caps did the bare minimum, no more.
I would argue the totality of findings show the club’s culpability and do little to erase the continued embarrassment and trauma the scandal has inflicted, principally upon those involved, but also everyone who cares about the organization.
The Caps have promised to implement the suggested recommendations, the bare minimum of what is required. Those who were placed on leave during the report can return to the organization now but they should not, not if the club’s claims of improvement can be believed.
Shameless Self Promotion
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