High School Referee Slapped with Child Porn Charges

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

November 1, 2005

Parents and friends are reacting to news of a local high school basketball referee being charged with multiple counts of child pornography. It is pretty disturbing to those affected, learning that a trusted official is involved in something like this.

Albemarle County police slapped 61-year-old Richard Lakes with 10 counts of possessing and distributing child pornography. The people that have worked with him are stunned.

"I think we're always surprised when someone we know is arrested for anything, so I say yes, we're all surprised," said Joy Sisson of the Virginia High School League.

"I'm very surprised and I wouldn't expect anything like this out Richard Lakes," said Dick Engel, a retired basketball official who once worked with Lakes.

Police found images of child pornography on the high school referee's computer. Bobby Knights has twins at Albemarle High School one of the many local schools where Lakes officiated basketball games. He said he's disturbed.

"[When he is involved with] something like that, I really don't want him anywhere around my children," said Knights.

To parents, the thought of Lakes being around there children is scary, but associates say he likely didn't have much time alone with students.

"Sport officials are always conducting their business and doing that business in front of lots of people usually," said Sisson.

Friends said Lakes had been officiating games in Albemarle county and Charlottesville for over 35 years. They noticed nothing unusual about his behavior.

"He was very professional, he was the commissioner involved with training young officials. He would evaluate the officials and try to make them better officials," said Engel.

Still, that doesn't do much to reassure parents.

"That kind of behavior just shouldn't be tolerated and especially someone in a position dealing with my children," said Knight.

Lakes also worked part-time as a pharmacist at the Giant on Pantops. The manager there explained that Lakes is on paid administrative leave pending a trial outcome. There is no word yet on whether or not he will be forced to leave his officiating position.

Lakes is out on $10,000 bond with restrictions. He can not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.

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