University Place School District settles near 20-year old sex abuse case

The University Place School District is paying out $9.5 million to three former students as part of a settlement agreement.

The three victims in the case allege that when they were teenagers, they were sexually abused by a volunteer wrestling coach.

Court documents allege that David O’Connor abused the victims from 2005 to 2007.

A civil trial was supposed to begin on May 22 but the parties were able to agree and settle out of court.

“Today is the day that we were supposed to pick a jury, so these men, they were ready to go to trial,” Vincent Nappo, one of the lawyers for the victims, said. “The settlement speaks to the seriousness of what happened to these three men, the seriousness of the abuse.”

Nappo said O’Connor should have never been allowed to coach in the district because back in 1977 he was convicted of abusing five kids in Chehalis.

He said this isn’t a question of districts having the correct protocols in place but actually following them.

“There was evidence in the case that other coaches knew that Coach O’Connor was doing weightlifting with students off campus, that he was using his coaching position to access boys off campus, unsupervised.”

The superintendent of University Place School District, Jeff Chamberlin, declined an on-camera interview with KIRO 7 but did send a written statement.

The statement said, “University Place School District’s first priority is to provide a safe and positive educational experience for all of its students. The District recently reached a settlement with several former students who alleged sexual abuse by a former parent and volunteer coach in the wrestling program between 2005 and 2008. The settlement is being paid by the District’s insurers. The parent has not been associated with the District for many years. We are deeply saddened by these allegations and are sorry for any pain or suffering that students may have experienced. Out of respect for the privacy of those involved we are unable to provide additional comments.”