UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — A former substitute teacher, coach and mentor is charged with over a dozen sex crimes against children.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Michael Basse with the laundry list of crimes Monday. The charging documents list five accusers, but an attorney who represents three of them believes there are more out there.
“The survivors who’ve come forward thus far took a very brave step coming forward and telling their story,” said Cole Douglas with Cochran Douglas Attorneys at Law.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Basse with eight counts rape of a child and five counts of child molestation. The thirteen counts all together vary in degree, with the eight of the thirteen counts being first-degree child rape or child molestation. The earliest alleged incident happened in 2007 and went into that person’s adulthood, with the alleged abuse coming to an end just last year.
“I think with Mike Basse being the extensive predator that he was, he would have kept doing what he was going to do and had been doing if someone didn’t come forward,” Douglas said. He added, “With each victim and survivor that we’ve encountered in this situation there’s a lot of similarities of Basse breaking down the barriers.”
Attorney Cole Douglas represents three of the five accusers detailed in the court documents.
Those papers show two boys, who are related, suffered alleged sexual abuse that spanned 2008 to 2016. Per the documents, the abuse started with the youngest, who was just a 9-year-old. Prosecutors say Basse abused the victims in a University of Puget Sound parking lot, at Seibukan Dojo where jiu jitsu is taught, on a camping trip at Penrose State Park, at a beach house and at Basse’s own house. They were all places parents signed off on.
“They think that he’s a trusted individual who they can place their faith in,” said Douglas. “He’s a predator. He exemplifies different grooming behaviors that really break down the barrier of not only the victims he takes advantage of, but also the families.”
Cole said Basse worked with and around kids in his roles as a substitute teacher with the University Place School District, a PTA volunteer at two district schools, and community coach.
“This kind and this magnitude, based on the type of predator Basse was based on our experience, we certainly believe there are more out there,” Douglas said.
Court documents also show Basse worked as a substitute teacher with the University Place School District from 2007-08 to 2015-16. The school district Superintendent Jeff Chamberlin said in a statement to KIRO 7 in regard to the investigation:
We are profoundly saddened by these allegations that children in our community were harmed by the conduct of Mike Basse. We care deeply about all of our students and their safety and well being is our first priority.
Mike Basse was hired in 2007 as a classified substitute after clearing standard background checks required of all UPSD employees. He was also a parent of a school-age child in UPSD at this time.
He worked on a part-time basis until June of 2016 as a substitute classroom assistant or health room paraeducator. He was never a classroom teacher.
Because he was a substitute employee he worked at different locations on different days. The number of hours he worked varied significantly each year from fewer than 40 total hours in 2007/08 to about 415 hours in 2015/16. For context, a full-time classified employee works more than 1,000 hours in a school year.
Mike Basse did not coach for the school district at any level. Our understanding is that he was a recreational youth baseball coach in the community and a martial arts instructor at a Tacoma location. Police would need to confirm this as these are not school sponsored activities.
In July of 2016, the district was notified by UP police about a complaint they received from a parent that Mr. Basse was sending inappropriate messages and making inappropriate comments to several kids. Mr. Basse was immediately removed from our substitute list until an investigation was completed and was subsequently formally separated from the district. Neither our investigation, nor the investigation conducted by police involved any reports of inappropriate touching or physical sexual abuse.
Right now, Basse is in the Pierce County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
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