Since 1994, Tony Davis has provided a constant, trusted guiding hand at Maple Valley's Tahoma High School as head football coach, athletic director and associate principal.
But on Tuesday, a Tahoma parent exposed a letter Davis wrote on Tahoma School District letterhead which sparked anger in the school community.
The letter, addressed to King County Judge John McHale, was written on behalf of 55-year-old Randall H. Rogers, a long-time Tahoma High supporter, who was sentenced in April to seven and a half years in prison for molesting an eight-year-old girl.
The letter appears to ask the judge for leniency during sentencing. Davis wrote: "I am writing on behalf of Randall Rogers with information I think is worthy of your consideration during the sentencing phase of this trial."
The letter describes a large donation Rogers made to the school's football program when one of his sons was a senior in the program. Davis told the judge the donation was used to buy practice equipment.
"Many young men have benefited from Mr. Rogers' generosity and I am grateful for his lasting contribution to our school," Davis wrote.
Davis referred KIRO 7 to Tahoma school communications director Kevin Patterson who wrote: "The letter does not represent Tahoma School District and school. Letterhead should not have been used... Mr. Davis, who has a long and distinguished record as an educator and coach, does not dispute the court's decision in this matter."
Tahoma High alumna Jessica Zielinski, who was coached by Davis, told KIRO 7 the letter was a violation of a sacred trust. "It is sad to see somebody who's well respected in our community to defend a convicted child molester," she said. "When you work with our kids you can't forget the role that you play in the community. You need to keep our kids safe, hands down!"
Davis will begin working in a brand-new state-of-the-art Tahoma High School which will open in August. "This building shows what our community can do," said Maple Valley City Councilmember Megan Sheridan. "This is what our community stands for right here, our kids come first. I felt that letter said our kids don't come first."
On Wednesday, Davis released a statement:
Last spring, at the request of two former football players, I wrote a letter to a judge that verified donation of a blocking sled that was made to our football program by the players’ father in 2005. The letter was submitted during the sentencing phase of the man’s conviction for child sexual molestation. Though I do not condone what the man was convicted of, I agreed to write the letter in support of the two boys and their mother. In retrospect, I should have found a different way to provide support for this family during this incredibly devastating time for everyone involved.
I want to sincerely apologize to the Tahoma School District community, including our past and present players and families, for the error in judgment and any pain that this has caused. During my 24-year career in the Tahoma School District, I have been dedicated to helping young people before and after they graduate, which was my intent in providing support to two of my former players.
This was the first time I have ever faced a situation like this and I responded in a way that I thought was best. I realize now that it wasn’t, and for that I am truly sorry.
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