For people reading this and other threads wondering what we can do about this, this is the answer. Make sure you know how to report things and have the resources you need, and then share those reporting methods and resources far and wide.
J.S. Thank you so much for coming forward. I myself am familiar with this man and his tactics as I was a victim as well. I had tried to come forward on a few occasions but as mentioned, it never seemed to pan out. The details don’t particularly matter on this thread, but I wanted you to know that you aren’t alone. Reach out to me on discord if you’d like @maddy233
As far as I am aware, he is, but still finds the ways of getting with other teams.
For the sake of honesty I have a very long history with Max as he was a student on my former team and then mentored 179 for the 2016 offseason and 2017 season before being removed for competitive integrity reasons not the reasons this thread has listed. During this time he was with another team and rumors began to swirl about his removal from that team, however when asked why we were told that they were advised by legal council that they could not disclose why he was removed. We have made sure that female members of the team were contacted when rumors of Max’s actions with female members of the community began circulating to make sure nothing happened while he was with us but I now realize his actions went much further than we suspected both in terms of severity and geographic reach.
To all of his victims I am sorry for my complacency in only getting in contact with teams who I knew he was involved with before his official ban in 2020 and letting them know about what happened with my team and the at the time rumors circulating. After 2020 I would let those teams know about his ban as opposed to forcing their hands by going directly to regional directors/YPP. I thought knowledge of his ban from the organization as a whole would be enough to stop anyone from letting him become involved but apparently many thought his remote status was enough protection to overcome the competitive advantage he could provide.
@maddy233 I am so proud of you for coming forward publicly and giving victims someone to get in contact with besides other anonymous accounts. To be clear I am not calling out anonymous accounts for bringing this stuff forward as these topics are very tough but I am glad there is now someone for them to go to for help.
Thanks for this. Especially with the Vex thread there seems to be talk of an “open secret” and many people who heard rumors or even witnessed things and did nothing (or not enough). Hopefully now we’ll, as a community, believe, investigate, and act on these rumors sooner and publicize everything. Keeping these threads around is a good change.
I definitely (personally) agree. I do think, as others have said in this/other threads, that a better way of categorizing / tagging / opting-out of potentially upsetting topics, as well as being able to organize these for visibility, matters.
I know this is a discussion the mod team is having about what gets posted, where it might go, and what should be moderated more heavily/can’t be on the forum. No concrete answer at this time, but as folks feel more confident about coming out with their experiences, it’s going to be something we have to manage as a community team and we’ll be as transparent as we can with CD users moving forward.
It is very, VERY important to make a distinction between keyboard warriors on Chief Delphi doing the investigating and acting, and this information being handed over to the correct authorities first hand by the person affected.
In one of the threads on vex, several people are mentioned. Those people do not appear to have been directly connected with the grooming, or sexual harassment. Putting names in threads without first hand proof of wrong doing is very serious. The internet is forever.
I think your suggestion to publicize “everything” is incorrect. The first hand accounts we’ve seen are terrifying. The third and fourth hand rumor is dangerous. The keyboard warriors connecting people to events based on guesswork and who was at the company at what times does not help the credibility of the accusations and may hurt people unconnected with the issues.
I’m glad these events came to light. I hope they will be acted on by sponsors, the parent organizations, and by people with the wallets who buy the products. The teams who are withdrawing their support from a major sponsor are examples of how we should all respond. I hope this gives courage to others that have experienced this to come forward and get help. But let’s all be careful we don’t let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction and turn this into a witch hunt. I sincerely hope the moderators over on the Vex forums do a little cleaning to remove the names and connections that were insinuated without proof.
I hesitated for quite a while to even post this because the pitchforks are out and torches are burning. But folks owe it to themselves and the people who have gone these horrible events to get it right and not destroy any lives needlessly.
I didn’t mean conducting a criminal investigation. And of course any information should be handed over to authorities. But there’s no innocent until proven guilty clause that prevents a mentor/student/anyone from being removed from a team. You can ask anyone to leave. You don’t have to wait for a conviction.
False accusations are rare.
Please tell me that Max Boord is a screen name, otherwise we have another issue as moderators.
I want all students to know that there should be an adult(s) on your team that is a student advocate. You need someone that you can turn to with any issue and who will help you sort through the process. If your team does not have one, push for that to happen ASAP. If you are not sure find out who they are at your next meeting.
I was one of the adults that pushed for FIRST to start YPP many years ago and then participated in beta testing the first plans. I draw my experience from Boy Scout leader training, IBEW Steward training and local required training for working with youth. No student ever should be exposed to predator. Never!
Your school district should also have a policy in place for identification. Our school district requires annual training, finger printing and very strict policies for adult/youth interaction. For instance, no communication can occur between adults and students except on district Slack that is archived and monitored.
I am surprised that local authorities have not been informed of the several incidences that have occurred and for pertinent copies of communication turned over as well. Suspected Predator lists do exist and can be checked by school authorities to prevent any interaction with students.
All team management should have a policy in place that no adults can be allowed to participate without some check taking place and that should include references from other people that have knowledge of the person in question.
To those who have been victims, I am truly sorry. If you need some help, please contact me and I will try to find you help.
Several posts have alluded to this person being “banned from FIRST.” Can someone elaborate on what exactly that means, in practice?
Who is notified when someone is “banned” from FIRST?
Is there a complete list of individuals who are “banned”?
To whom is that data accessible and what are the guidelines, if any, given about to how to engage with those individuals?
Does FIRST augment its background checks with information from such a list?
When an individual is “banned” due to inappropriate, likely criminal, conduct with a minor, does FIRST share that information with law enforcement authorities? Does FIRST provide guidance to affected individuals for how to report this conduct to authorities?
What does it mean to be “banned”? Does FIRST threaten an individual with legal action should they engage with teams or events? Do they ask politely that you stop engaging with the program?
I’m just interested in understanding a bit more – if there’s anything more to understand – about what it means for an individual to be “banned” and how to make sure that teams and mentors can inform themselves about possible threats.
This is all good advice, Al. Unfortunately it would not have changed things in the case that J.S. is describing because Max didn’t reach out to a team mentor to try to work with J.S.’s team. He went directly to the student and offered “help”, initially online, in what would really be a “gray area” of mentorship.
That’s the avenue that these (primarily) younger alumni/mentors are using to get access to students on multiple teams and move around undetected.
I am not trying to single out your post specifically, but bring attention to the reality that we need to think critically about how we coach students to identify when adults are trying to side-step normal processes for “joining” a team as a mentor. We can have background checks, finger printing, YPP registration, etc. but that still doesn’t address those who use avenues like CD, Discord, FRC Reddit etc. to interact directly with students.
Hi, I flagged your post because it’s off topic in an important thread. Your post should have been a DM.
Looks like we need to charge $8 to be a verified adult .
But, in all seriousness, the number of student team members who add ‘coach’ / ‘president’ / ‘manager’ / ‘leader’ to their titles or information can make it very difficult to determine who you should be addressing information to. There’s definitely room for improvement that Chief could pursue that would help address this level of serious information to the correct person.
Sorry about veering off topic for a moment.
Looking through my own personal history of people who have DMed me who at the time were most likely students is pretty shocking in hindsight. Once again I agree that I don’t want to derail a topic as serious as this but would individual moderators be ok with being added to a DM chain in which a student messages a mentor to try to stick closer to YPP guidelines?
Not speaking on behalf the moderating team, just myself. While I strongly believe that avoiding 1 on 1 contact with students is a great idea, I personally do not have the bandwidth to be added to random DM exchanges on this site. I wonder if there’s a more robust solution that doesn’t lean on a very small group of individuals to handle a potentially massive amount of DMs.
Agreed I am not familiar with how Discourse (i believe that is what Delphi runs on now) handles things but perhaps setting up a system where we have Adults and Students as two separate groups of “users”. Any time a “student” user messages an “adult” user possibly another account associated with either the student or adults assigned team gets added. You could even have adults volunteer to be the “adult” representative of their team who gets put in said chat. This would not stop adults posing as students from abusing the system, or two adults covering for each other but just a thought.
Any mentors reading this thread - please recognize why 1:1 private contact and communication with minors is not a “gray area”. Protect yourself and protect the students by keeping everything above board and insisting everyone else do likewise. Copy parents in communications, include other mentors in group chats, avoid any 1:1 situation you can.
First and foremost, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude and admiration toward J.S. for starting this topic, and everyone else who has shared their story so far. I myself had to take a brief break from Chief Delphi and other FRC spaces for my own mental health when this thread first started, but I hope that me sharing my experiences and offering my support can help others who have been or are in my shoes.
For an approximately six-month period in 2019 and 2020, while I was a student, I worked closely online with Max Boord. To be quite frank, I was coerced into being affiliated with him, despite the things that I had heard about him prior. During this period, I was in many online chats with him, and engaged in text messages and voice calls with him almost daily. Our relationship developed to the point where myself and a very close friend of mine at the time ended up planning to go to Florida and stay at his place. The trip did not happen, to my profound relief.
Max’s actions (content warning: sexual harassment of a minor, bullying, gaslighting)
His actions had always been concerning, but escalated in scope and severity as time went on and we communicated more frequently. In one of the first voice calls I’d ever been in with him, he made several sexually inappropriate comments, including toward myself (I was 17 years old at the time), and used slurs that I took personal offense to. Despite this, I stayed in contact with him, because I didn’t think I could leave without receiving animosity and estrangement from several people I was friends with at the time. Over time, the inappropriate and uncomfortable comments not only continued, but increased in frequency and vulgarity, including those targeted at me. I had to make excuses to leave several voice calls because I was so disturbed by what was being said to me. He began to exclude me from discussions that pertained to me and the aforementioned trip because he did not want me present, and gossiped about me behind my back both to people I did not know and my friends, who later told me about it. While this was inherently upsetting, I will admit that I was rather relieved to not have to spend more time with him. Around the time that the trip got cancelled, he began to frequently message me directly to tell me false information about my (at the time) closest friend, who I had been planning to go on the trip with, in order to ruin our friendship. To support his claims, he sent me several doctored screenshots of their private messages, and told me several times explicitly to not tell my friend anything about what we were discussing. This caused a lot of tension and discomfort between us. Over the course of this approximately month-long period where he was frequently messaging me directly, he sent me images that included a graphic lewd photo of himself and a (fake) lewd photo of my friend. When I confronted him about what he was doing and asked him why he was doing all of this, he became aggressive toward me, claiming that he was trying to help me by showing me these “messages,” despite them causing me multiple anxiety attacks a day. Even after this ended, my relationship with my other friend was never the same, and I have numerous regrets about how I treated them during and after this time period.
The impact on me (content warning: mental illness, suicide)
While in the past, I have tried my best to not talk about this in detail, I can now break my silence and say with confidence that I haven’t really ever been the same since this happened. I experienced intense spells of depression and heightened anxiety, which often forced me to miss school and team meetings. I fell very far behind in both schoolwork and college applications, and barely graduated from high school on time whereas in the previous year I had been a dean’s list student. I couldn’t contribute to my team as much as I wanted to, which ended up driving a wedge between me and several members, understandably so. But for my senior year, it was absolutely heartbreaking to deal with. I became distanced from my friends, and ended up unintentionally ruining many relationships both online and in-person. I did not tell anybody about what was going on, not even my parents or closest friends, because I felt so ashamed of myself for letting this happen. During the 2020 build season, I contemplated committing suicide. I have many friends to thank from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to convince myself to not go through with it, but I would be lying if I said I’m not still feeling the effects today. It’s even followed me into my college career and post-graduation FIRST involvement, and I’m still working through it in therapy over three years later.
We can all play a part in making the FIRST community a safer place for students, especially online. While the majority of the onus should be on mentors, alumni, and volunteers, there are actions that students can take for their own benefit as well. For any students reading this, some advice that I wish I had taken to heart:
- If something is making you upset or uncomfortable, there is absolutely no shame in leaving, especially if it is online, where you can curate your experience however you like. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is not somebody you want in your life. You do not owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself.
- Try your best to forgive yourself if you mess up somewhere. Your brain is not finished developing. You are still learning. As long as you use your experience to help positively guide your actions in the future, you will not be defined by your mistakes.
- There is absolutely no reason to feel ashamed if someone harms you, especially someone in a position of power over you. Beating yourself up over what you should have done in the past doesn’t help you in the present or future. All you can do is address the pain, heal as best as you can, and learn for the future.
- As a side note, never fall into the trap of thinking that you have to keep your pain silent, secret, and repressed. Even if you don’t have people you can trust at the moment, there are ways that you can begin the healing process anonymously. Hiding pain doesn’t make it better, it just makes it hurt more in the future.
- If all else fails, trust your gut instinct. If you’re getting bad vibes, it’s probably for a reason.
There are many other posts from people wiser than I about what adults can do to help students, and I implore everyone in this community to read those posts and take them to heart. While this situation is still sore for me, I’ve been doing a lot of healing especially over the past few months, and with the support of many amazing people who I am lucky to call my friends, I can safely say that I feel more like myself than I ever have.
For anyone who needs support or just an ear to listen, my DMs are open both on here and on Discord.
Hi all, I moved posts regard YPP and protecting youth to a different thread:
Best Practices for Youth Safety: an open thread for suggestions
I apologize for any confusion that may arise from this, it was not an easy extraction. Let me know (DM) if I missed anything or moved something I should not.
So this is the post that gets me back out of hibernation I guess.
Well… I’m disappointed with myself for a lot of what I am reading here.
I’ve tried to re-access old emails and slack accounts for more precise recollections but have been unable to do so.
In short, Max joined the F4 slack account in 2017 following him competing in the 2nd F4 CADathon. F4 had already been around at that point for years and while it had plenty issues; being it was all students, we didn’t have issues of this nature. However 2017 correlated with myself and many other long time members graduating from high school and thus we became much more relaxed on our “student only” community. F4 was already at this point more or less dissolved into just a Slack groupchat and a CAD competition so it was already far from its initial intent.
Max competed again in one CADathon and then stepped aside as he wanted to be on the GDC. Through this time he was pretty active in the F4 Slack account, but nothing seemed too off. My personal involvement was also dipping as I was working quite a bit in preparation for college. That said, I started becoming increasingly suspect about Max. A lot of what he said, simply didn’t add up. He wouldn’t be the first person to lie about their personal life or achievements online, but it put me on guard. I brought it up to several people and was brushed off mostly as overeating. I was reminded that he was an “accomplished FRC designer…”
A few months later, a female reached out to myself regarding a sexual harassment claim towards Max. It was very similar to stories already reported here. It was then that I banned Max from our Slack and Discord. It was also made very clear that he was not going to be allowed to compete in future CADathons. I also emailed FIRST at this point regarding what had occurred. For reference, I never did hear back from them. Looking back, I probably went through the wrong channels and there is a good chance my email was lost in the shuffle. I should have done everything through YPP.
Several months later Max was banned from the FRC Discord for reasons I am not aware of. He then tried several times to compete in CADathons of ours after this. In multiple cases we had to DQ teams because of it. In one case a team actually finished their robot and we ended up DQing them when evidence of Max helping them surfaced.
It’s really disheartening to see that he is still lurking around our community. From what I understand he is banned from attending FIRST events, is banned from all major FIRST related communities and despite this he is still around. Truly sickening activity.
It’s particularly disappointing that he is seemingly working with the team I’m an alumni of. I will be reaching out to their lead mentor and the superintendent today to make sure they are aware of this. Libby thanks for being active on this front as it’s only because of the Vex stuff that I even saw this thread.
The question this presents to me, is what can we do as a community to stop predators of this nature from permeating these channels?
I was a competitive gymnast in my past life and one thing USA Gymnastics always had was a public banned member list. USA Gymnastics | Permanently Ineligible and Ineligible Members and Participants
In fact, this list was and is still sent in a monthly magazine to pretty much every competitive gymnast in the country. USA Gymnastics is about as far as it gets from a model organization in this (or any) regard, but could something like this be helpful in an FIRST context?