Update: Yesterday, Richard Koca, who co-founded StandUp for Kids, a homeless-youth charity, pleaded not guilty to 22 counts of sexual assault on a child. However, prosecutors say they have a recording of Koca confessing. We've got details about the allegations and Koca's co-creation, which has now stripped all mentions of him from its website.
As we detail in our original coverage, on view below in its entirety, StandUp For Kids, founded in 1990, sends outreach counselors into the street in an effort to assist homeless youth. As of last September, when Koca was arrested, the organization had branches in 37 cities, but that number has risen to 45, according to its online "by the numbers" page. In a 2002 bio, Koca was quoted as saying, "This isn't about money. It's about caring!" He added, "What we've accomplished has no price tag. We know we've made the difference in the lives of thousands of kids. I would have paid that price for one!"
Prior to his StandUp For Kids work, Koca spent thirty years in the military, where he was stationed in or visited a wide array of locations in the U.S., plus Panama, Venezuela, Italy and England. While in the first country, he was also a Scout Master for a Boy Scouts of America program, and he volunteered in an orphanage while spending time in England. He was also part of Explorer scout programs in San Diego.
As such, the Aurora Police Department announced that it was actively looking for additional victims after Koca, age seventy, was arrested on September 15 for allegedly assaulting a child said to be under his supervision. But there was no mention of other kids at yesterday's arraignment, suggesting that no other evidence of wrongdoing has surfaced since Koca was taken into custody.
Koca's not-guilty plea seemingly contradicts with an in-court reference by an Arapahoe County prosecutor to a "tape-recorded confession." But there's no question Koca continues to have a great many defenders. Our original posts attracted a slew of comments from individuals helped by StandUp For Kids over the years. Here's one example:
I met Rick Koca many many years ago and I still credit him for one of the main reasons that I am alive today. He saved me. Saved me from drugs. Saved me from the streets. Saved me from myself. He helped shaped me into the person that I am today. There is just no way that these horrendous accusations can be true. Rick only ever wanted to help kids and I seriously doubt he just woke up one day and decided that he was going to be a pedophile. There was never any "pattern of behavior." No warning signs. Nothing to suggest that he would ever hurt one of us. I was abused sexually by my uncle when I was little. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally abused by my mother. I know the signs of abuse as do many of the "street kids" that Rick helped. That he saved. Coming from abuse like we did ensures that we can spot an abuser a mile away and had Rick been that type of person one of us sure as heck would have known it. Rick stood up for me and so many of my friends so we are here to stand up for him. It makes me sick how people who don't even know him have already prejudge him. They have already condemned them in their living rooms. The media has had a hand in that. I am here to tell all of you that Rick is innocent. I am alive today because of this man. I have a loving husband and 4 wonderful children because this man saved me. I am a college student because this man saw to it that I got myself together. He is my friend. He is my confidant. He is just amazing person who obviously put himself out there and someone decided to take advantage of him in this horrific way. All of us former street kids love you Rick!!! We are here for you no matter what!
Contrasting comments like this one is the following anecdote from a longer post:
I volunteered for Mr. Koca a bit between 2008 and 2010. I met his daughters and grand daughters as well. I have to say, he was sort of inappropriately flirty with me when training, but I was not a kid; I was in my thirties. Because of that, I really didn't trust him: he was unprofessional and ignored my boundaries. I've met so many men like that, I didn't think much of it. I just kept my distance and reserved my trust.
At this point, StandUp For Kids is clearly distancing itself from Koca, as noted by 7News in its most recent coverage. Shortly after his arrest, though, StandUp For Kids interim national director Justine Madison issued the following statement:
StandUp For Kids, Inc. (SUFK) is aware of the charges and recent arrest of Rick Koca. Mr. Koca retired from his position as the CEO of SUFK in June, 2010. As CEO of the organization, Mr. Koca was primarily responsible for oversight of SUFK's national office. Between August 2010 and August 2011, Mr. Koca assisted with the transition to the new CEO. Mr. Koca served on the board of directors of SUFK from inception until September 17, 2012 when the board learned of the arrest and charges. The organization has no further information at this time about the arrest or charges against Mr. Koca other than the reports distributed by media outlets. SUFK has not been contacted by law enforcement regarding Mr. Koca, however, if contacted, the organization intends to cooperate fully.
As you can see, Madison's statement emphasizes that Koca hasn't been directly working with kids since at least the time of his retirement as CEO in mid-2010. However, the Aurora Police argued that the crimes for which Koca has been charged may have taken place as early as August 2009. Moreover, an AARP video on view below shows Koca taking a very active role in street-side operations despite his elevated title.
Here's a larger look at Koca's booking photo, followed by the new 7News report.
Continue for more about Richard Koca. Original post, 8:09 a.m. September 18, 2012: At this writing, the web home of StandUp For Kids, an organization devoted to helping homeless youth, is down -- and no wonder. Richard Koca, the 69-year-old co-founder of the organization, has been arrested in Aurora on charges related to child-sex-assault allegations. But we've managed to grab a screen capture from the site and a video showing Koca touting the group. See them below.
The scoop on Koca's arrest comes courtesy of 7News, which reports that he's currently behind bars on seven counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust involving a pattern of abuse. The period during which the crimes are said to have taken place stretches from August 2009 to August 2012.
So...who's Richard Koca? Here's a StandUp For Kids bio circa 2002, when he was listed as a founder and chief executive officer:
Mr. Koca is a retired naval officer. Rick joined the Navy at the age of 17, and during the next 30 years was promoted 13 times through 17 pay grades. A highly decorated naval officer, Rick was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, three Navy Achievement Medals, as well as numerous service awards and commendations.
In 1990, with the help of several friends, STANDUP FOR KIDS outreach counselors began walking the streets touching base with the street kids. Now, more than twelve years later, STANDUP FOR KIDS has grown to more than twenty-eight programs in thirteen states.
Now, after more than thirteen years of walking the streets, he can't think of a place that he would rather be. There have been many times when he just wanted to turn his back on it all. He thought it would help relieve the pain he was seeing in the kids on the streets. The pain of his first street kid who said he was HIV positive, the first 12-year-old living in a dumpster, his first youth heroin addict, a 13-year-old prostitute, the first baby living in a cave, and his first 17-year-old who died as a result of AIDS.
Rick said, "this isn't about money, it's about caring!" "What we've accomplished has no price tag. We know we've made the difference in the lives of thousands of kids, I would have paid that price for one"!
Now, this nationally acclaimed program has been recognized on three separate occasions by the White House, the U.S. Justice Department, American Express, the Governor's Office in Arizona twice, the Secretary of State of Colorado, and awarded the prestigious JCPenney Golden Rule Award. Rick has been awarded the George Washington Honor Award for his work with homeless and street kids; the Channel 10 Leadership Award, and was recognized as a finalist for the Edward A. Smith Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership. Rick lives in San Diego and has 3 children and 7 grandchildren in Denver, Colorado.
As for the organization itself, its website once made prominent mention of Koca -- although 7News notes that it no longer does so. However, we've grabbed a look at the previous page.
Right now, according to 7News, Koca is being held on a $250,000 bond -- and authorities believe there could be more victims.
Look below to see the 7News report, followed by an AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) clip in which "Rica Koca" tells the StandUp For Kids story.
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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Charles Farrar: Appeal denied in sex-abuse case despite 'victim' recanting."