This just in from your District 7 Director!
Hello D 7 membership,
By now most of you probably have heard some sort of rumblings that the ARBA board has voted in secrecy to allow Kyle Cunningham his membership and judging license be reinstated. Let me try to explain the best I can and to bring light the truth as to what he did and what is going on today. I have also chosen to plagiarize some content from Board member Dick Gehr as he said it best.
First off the board voted on this topic just as usual. Email discussion and then the President called for an email vote. No secrets. Info was leaked to the membership before Eric Stewart had any chance to formalize the vote and put something down on paper or email.
I voted in favor of reinstating Kyle’s membership and licenses after a long mental struggle.
The problem right now is that way too much false info has gotten posted everywhere and anywhere. The ARBA board at the time of the incident with Kyle Cunningham (over 5 years ago) revoked/suspended his membership and licenses for 5 years.
According to the by-laws:
Section 5. The Board of Directors may impose penalties upon any member of the Association for conduct which, in its judgment, warrants such action. Such penalties include but are not limited to expulsions, suspensions, and fines.
This is what was done 5 years ago. The board at that time could have issued an expulsion at that time but issued a suspension instead.
Now, with his punishment fulfilled, according to what he was given at that time by a previous board, he petitioned the ARBA for reinstatement of his membership and for his licenses. Our ARBA attorneys have also gone over this issue carefully in order to determine that the ARBA is not responsible for any of Kyle’s actions, as he is an independent contractor if he is judging a show.
For Kyle to have his license reinstated, he must fulfill all obligations required of every judge, meaning he must pay all past judge and registrar fees for the period he was suspended, and must also take and pass all Review Tests for judges that have been required for the past 5 years. At this time, these required items have not been completed, thus Kyle’s licenses has not been reinstated and will take a considerable amount of time to do so.
I personally do not approve in any way of a rightly labeled "sex-offender" being a member of the ARBA or holding any position in it in any form...but without provisions, guidelines and rules that legally allow us to withhold membership to anyone once a given punishment by a previous board is fulfilled, is something else entirely, unless subsequent issues/violations occur. There is no current provision mandating any background check, and I am not certain that the ARBA could even attempt to do this for every individual within the ARBA membership.
Does anyone have any idea as to what can be done in order to ensure that we don't have a "sex-offender" walking around the showroom at any one of our local shows, national shows or even the ARBA Convention? I would bet with a membership of over 18,000, there are neighbors, friends or even other judges that may have been found guilty of felonies that have been showing and judging right besides you. How would we know? We don’t have a system that would tell us or a police department that could find out.
Sex-offenders must follow court/legal requirements. Eric Stewart was in contact with the State of Indiana sheriff’s department. The department has verified that Kyle is a labeled sex offender that was sentenced to 5 years but only served 6 months. He has NO further mandates except to report to them should he decide to leave his address for over a week, say going on a vacation. NO probation, no venues he must stay clear of. There are NO, I repeat NO stipulations that he can’t be near women or children. He is NOT a pedophile. In short, Kyle and a consenting adult woman had a “sex for a discount on rent” agreement on going for a considerable time. The woman wanted more rent off her monthly bill. There was an argument and she went to the police. The Indiana Police department set up a sting, by wiring up the woman the next month. He was then arrested after refusing to give her more money off the rent. I whole heartedly do not find this right or acceptable at all and I am not even sure I should be sharing this with everyone BUT I want to try and calm fears of our member mothers out there.
Dick Gehr requested the legal advice of the ARBA counsel and all of the facts before a ‘final’ decision was reached regarding Kyle Cunningham’s judging license. He wanted to make sure Kyle would not have the ability and legal recourse to sue the ARBA.
The ARBA Board that suspended Kyle’s membership, judge, and registrar license 5 years ago also had the option to expel him permanently from the ARBA as a member. Evidently they did not feel the need to go to those lengths.
Unfortunately, our hobby of raising and showing rabbits has grown tremendously but our organizational practices have not. With the on slaught of face book and the internet, the ARBA continues to lag behind. After all, we used to be a small, fun hobby. We are now a business and must act like one to stay alive.
As promised back in September 2013, just 5 months ago, I would bring the topic of “Judges Code of Ethics” to the Board for discussion and press for a written document. I am pleased to say that these guidelines are making its way through the board and legal channels. I do however see this document being stalled for a short time as we now examine the Kyle Cunningham issue. I believe more “meat” will have to be written into the guidelines. Once we tackle this “code” we should then tackle a “code” for the membership as well as a social media policy. I will continue to press this ARBA Board of Directors for these outcomes.
So, without any policies, guidelines and rules in place for this kind of problem, I had no choice but to follow our current ARBA Constitution and By Laws that are in place.
I am always free to speak to should you want to comment, scream or yell.
The following is a statement that has been drafted by the ARBA regarding this situation:
As some may be aware, many years ago, after receiving recommendation from the appropriate administrative committee, the ARBA Board of Directors voted to suspend former judge Kyle Cunningham's ARBA membership for the period of five years following his conviction of criminal activity. The ARBA board at that time did not place any additional remedial measures to be completed prior to reinstatement of his membership.
Recently, Mr. Cunningham's suspension period expired and he petitioned the ARBA board for reinstatement of his membership. Without condoning his prior conduct, the ARBA Board voted to reinstate Mr. Cunningham's membership. At this time, Mr. Cunningham has not completed the requisite steps to have his rabbit judging license reinstated.
Mr. Cunningham may be subject to additional investigation by appropriate ARBA committees. Please be aware that at this time, ARBA does not require criminal background checks on rabbit and cavy registrars and judges. Further, while each is required to complete rigorous testing and continued education, rabbit and cavy registrars and judges are independent contractors rather than employees of ARBA.
ARBA is dedicated to serving the needs of its membership, has given much thought to this issue, and sought advice from outside legal counsel. ARBA is open to consideration for ethics requirements for rabbit and cavy registrars and judges.
Further, ARBA is in the process of reviewing the requirements for membership and welcomes continued dialogue.