A Little League umpire’s arrest on a child pornography charge is only the latest arrest within that northern Virginia league, a former coach told News4.
Donald Aikin Essex, a 67-year-old grandfather and former chief umpire of Fort Hunt Little League, appeared in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., May 18. Essex and an undercover D.C. police officer posing as the father of a 9-year-old girl exchanged messages online in which Essex sent 10 images of child pornography and tried to arrange a sexual encounter with the girl, according to federal court documents. Essex told the undercover officer "he is the grandfather of three grandchildren" and he "claimed to be sexually active with all three children."
Dolan Sullivan, who coached in the league for eight years until 2006 and whose two sons played in the league, told News4 the league’s problems go beyond the child porn charge. In 2009, former coach and umpire Eric Mintzer pleaded guilty to enticing a minor. Before that, former umpire John Hamilton was accused of molesting five boys and pleaded guilty.
“And we saw things that were red flags with Hamilton spending more time with individual kids within the league,” Sullivan said.
Hamilton fled the country for several months. He was picked up in Poland and eventually brought back to face those charges. He’s serving a 55-year prison sentence.
It’s well known Hamilton and Essex lived together in a Centreville townhouse, Dolan said. At the time, he wanted the league remove Essex of his chief umpire position.
“We’re not paying him, there’s no employment contract,” Sullivan said. “Why can’t we just separate ourselves from this individual?”
The league’s president said they didn’t want to act without formal charges.
Police haven’t said if there’s any criminal connection between Hamilton and Essex.
Dolan’s pushing Fort Hunt Little League to be more proactive.
“We need to get some instruction in order to be able to identify these individuals,” Dolan said.
League President Barry Meuse, who was not part of the league during the Hamilton and Mintzer incidents, said the league is already beginning the process of enhanced training for the league’s adult volunteers.
“And hopefully other leagues across the Washington Metropolitan area can be sensitive to this, too,” Dolan said.