Robert Beach, the cheerleading coach at Southern Connecticut State University, was fired from the position Monday after six digital photographs of nude women were found in his camera bag.
The photos were discovered after a woman connected with the team used a disk from Beach’s bag to take pictures of the squad, SCSU director of public affairs Patrick Dilger said. When she downloaded the disk, she found five photographs of headless torsos. A sixth photograph showed the face and chest of a woman who was identified as a former SCSU cheerleader.
Dilger said the sixth woman was a cheerleader at the time the pictures were taken, approximately three years ago. None of the other women has been identified.
The university fired Beach from his position as cheerleading coach because “his knowledge of the photos and his failure to report them to the administration was inappropriate and inconsistent with his position as a coach of young women,” Dilger said.
SCSU is conducting an investigation with “a couple of other agencies” into Beach’s conduct, Dilger said. No criminal charges have been filed.
“It has not been proven that [Beach] either owned or took the pictures,” said David Denino, director of the counseling center at SCSU. “Anybody could have taken the pictures because it’s a team sports camera. The police are investigating who had access to the camera and for how long.”
Denino said representatives of the athletics department, police department and counseling services met with all 50 to 60 cheerleaders early last week to tell them the facts and provide support.
“We [then] set up some group settings where anyone who felt they needed to talk about the incident could come in and express their emotions,” Denino said.
Denino said at least five or six students were interested in follow-up meetings, which will start this week.
Dilger said reactions from students and parents were mixed.
“People are concerned and in some cases surprised,” he said. “We’ve had some calls from parents.”
Beach, who has been the coach for 19 years, has helped the team win “several national titles at various levels,” Dilger said. Trish Linda, formerly the assistant cheerleading coach, will replace Beach. Beach’s old phone number at SCSU still reaches his recorded voice message.
Dilger said that in his six years as director of public affairs, he’s never known an SCSU faculty member to be accused of similar behavior.
“He was a good guy,” said Tim Quill, head swimming coach at SCSU. “He was always nice to me.”
Beach is also on administrative leave from his position as health teacher at Hamden Middle School and from his part-time position as assistant coach of SCSU’s women’s gymnastics team. SCSU could not fire him from that post, Dilger said, because he has a union contract.
Wendy Ocone, administrative assistant to the Hamden superintendent of schools, said Beach still works at Hamden Middle School and that he is on administrative leave.
Many athletics and administrative officers at SCSU refused to comment, asking that all questions be directed to Dilger.
“We are not at liberty to comment because this is a personal matter,” Patricia Nicol, SCSU’s athletic director, said.
Dilger said that the university had decided that he should handle all calls regarding Beach.