A thorough criminal background check should have derailed the application of an assistant hockey coach later charged with having sex with a female team member, Robbinsdale schools Superintendent Stan Mack said Friday.
Nathan Paul Antrim, 35, of Rogers was charged Friday with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Hennepin County District Court. The complaint alleges Antrim, who was removed from his position Thursday, had consensual intercourse last weekend with a 16-year-old player at Cooper High School.
Like other coaches in the Robbinsdale district, Antrim was screened by the district's human resources office before he was hired for the Hawks girls' hockey team in October 2006, school officials said.
The human resources office normally screens for felonies and crimes involving inappropriate relationships with children or adolescents, Mack said Friday.
Even with the absence of those red flags, Mack said Antrim's police record -- which the superintendent confirmed includes driving without a license and violation of a restraining order, as well as bookings on several other offenses, including theft, all misdemeanors -- would have given him pause.
"I think if I would have been making the ruling on that individual based on what I've read I would not have approved his employ," he said, adding that Antrim's long history as a youth hockey coach may have factored into his hiring. Mack said that in the future, screeners should scrutinize applicants' misdemeanor records more closely, even when the applicants are applying for part-time positions and have experience in youth sports.
Antrim told police that he had sex with the girl, according to a criminal complaint. He also said that he had given her an iPod and a cell phone and that he had sent her suggestive text messages.
The girl told police that Antrim gave her the gifts, that he often drove her home from practice and that she had lied about her whereabouts last weekend, when she had stayed with Antrim at his house.
The situation came to light Monday, when the girl's father told Cooper High School officials that his daughter had not come home over the weekend and that he suspected she had been with Antrim.
The Star Tribune generally does not identify sexual-assault victims.
New Hope police, investigating the case, concluded that the sexual activity was limited to the single weekend and that Antrim was sexually involved with only one player.
Antrim was arrested Thursday and remained in custody Friday night in the Hennepin County jail.
Girls' hockey head coach Chris Johnson and Principal Mike Favor declined to comment Friday. A message to Cooper Athletic Director John Oelfke was not returned.
Many parents also declined to comment or did not return a reporter's calls.
"I understand that a large number of the girls on the team are in denial that this individual would do such a thing,'' Mack said. "But they are in denial because they knew this individual for so long.''
One player's mother said she didn't know much about the charges, but she commended school officials on acting quickly once the information came out.
The mother said she knew nothing about Antrim's criminal history. "I know my daughter, and I know she talks to us,'' she said. "And I feel comfortable with how the school has handled this."
Tim Morris, the head girls' hockey coach at Eden Prairie High School, said he never sees applicants' criminal reports.
"Every school district has their own standards for hiring and firing," he said. "And I would like to think that the school district I work in would certainly have taken a second look at someone who would have a record like that."
In any case, he has a rule that no coach ever has one-to-one contact with a player; either another player or another coach has to be in the room at all times.
"We don't meet in private with a kid, period," he said. "Every time something like this happens it hurts all coaches. It's one of those things you hate to hear about."
Staff writer Joy Powell contributed to this report. Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409