StandUp For Kids founder Richard Koca's child-sex-assault bust: Maybe more victims, cops fear
Since we first wrote about the arrest on child-sex-assault charges of Richard Koca, who founded StandUp For Kids, a nonprofit devoted to helping homeless youth (see our original coverage below), Aurora police have released more info about this shocking turn. Meanwhile, a StandUp For Kids statement implies that Koca has had little recent contact with children, although he was still the outfit's CEO when crimes are thought to have taken place.
According to the Aurora Police Department, Koca was taken into custody September 15 on a felony arrest warrant for sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust in relation to a child he was "supervising" in Aurora. His original bond was set at $100,000, but that total was subsequently bumped up to $250,000. The juvenile in question has not been identified, owing to age.
Koca during his years in the Navy.
The investigation began a couple of weeks prior to the bust, the APD notes, with only one underage victim identified to date. However, investigators are concerned about the possibility of more victims given Koca's "extensive contact over the past several decades with persons under the age of eighteen through his work with several nonprofit organizations that primarily serve children," a release stresses.
As we detail below, StandUp For Kids, founded in 1990, sends outreach counselors into the street in an effort to assist homeless youth. The organization currently has branches in 37 cities, and in a 2002 bio, Koca is quoted as saying, "This isn't about money. It's about caring!" He adds, "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!"
In addition to his StandUp For Kids work, the APD points out that Koca, a retired naval officer who spent thirty years in the military, has been 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 as-yet-unidentified orphanage while spending time in England. He was also part of Explorer scout programs in San Diego.
Not difficult to suss out why Aurora reps are mentioning his proximity to kids in these far-flung spots -- nor why the department has released the photo seen here of the Koca during his Navy days. Investigators are actively encouraging anyone else who may have been victimized to contact Crimes Against Children Unit Detective Robert Friel at 303-739-6185.
Meanwhile, 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, 69, hasn't been directly working with kids since at least the time of his retirement as CEO in mid-2010. However, the Aurora Police maintain 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 newly issued booking photo.
Update: Original post, 8:09 a.m. September 18: 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.
Richard Koca as seen in a video on view below.
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.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Charles Farrar: Appeal denied in sex-abuse case despite 'victim' recanting."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.