South Sound News

Sumner basketball coach accused of sexual assault, exploitation of child

In a lawsuit filed in Pierce County, a Sumner basketball coach has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment of a player he coached, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

KIRO 7 is not the naming the coach at this time because he has not been criminally charged.

According to the lawsuit, the coach was the head of the boys basketball team for Sumner High School from 2016 to September 2022, where he coached the victim.

The lawsuit says the coach witnessed the victim playing basketball at a Sumner Basketball Academy game, where the coach contacted the victim on Instagram using a cellphone from his company, Sterling Athletics.

As their communication progressed, the coach invited the victim to start attending open gym basketball practices at Sumner High School, where the coach offered to help with the victim’s journey as a collegiate basketball player.

When the victim went from middle school to Sumner High School, the coach began to give the victim free basketball equipment, gear, custom apparel, shoes and envelopes of cash.

Around this time, the coach asked the victim if he would like to work in the Sterling Athletics’ warehouse, where he was paid a “very high hourly rate,” sometimes over $100 an hour.

Soon after, according to the lawsuit, the coach started to ask the victim sexually explicit questions, sending pictures of his abdominal muscles and pictures of himself urinating, where he showed his genitalia.

These messages included requests for the victim to send photos of himself in exchange, including pictures of the victim’s genitalia.

According to the lawsuit, in the summer of 2020, the coach invited the victim over to his house to help with yard work. When they were finished, the coach invited the victim into his home.

The lawsuit claims the coach invited the victim upstairs to view his extensive basketball shoe collection in a bedroom closet while the coach showered.

While the victim was viewing the collection, the coach cornered the victim in the closet, naked, where he committed a sexual act in front of him, the lawsuit said.

Over the next two years, the coach continued to message the victim, asking for pictures of his genitalia.

The lawsuit says that due to the coach’s repeated actions, the victim has suffered considerably. The lawsuit asks for special damages, general damages, attorney fees and any additional relief.

The police investigation has been going on for at least a month. On Thursday, the Sumner Police Department said in a statement, “Because of the digital nature of this case, this investigation can take some time and keeps us from being able to provide an anticipated completion date.”

KIRO 7 also reached out to the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District about the situation. The district said it is “disheartened and disturbed”. The district added the defendant is no longer a coach with the district and has been directed to stay off of school property.

Their full statement is below:

The Sumner-Bonney Lake School District is disheartened and disturbed about the allegations that are the subject of an ongoing police investigation of the Sumner High School boys varsity basketball coach, and most recently, the civil lawsuit against the coach for alleged inappropriate behavior toward a student. We are taking this issue very seriously and continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement.

The Sumner High School boys varsity basketball coach will no longer be coaching with the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. The SBLSD does not have the coach under contract for the 2022-2023 school year. He has not worked for the SBLSD in another capacity other than as a coach. Because he is no longer a coach for the SBLSD, it is not necessary to have him to be on administrative leave, and he has been directed to not be on the SBLSD’s premises or property.

SBLSD has hired Dr. Jarrett Mentink to serve as Sumner High School’s Interim Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach. In-person training is scheduled for all SBLSD winter sports coaches regarding professional staff/student boundaries. This same in-person training will be provided for all SBLSD spring coaches.

We support those who are struggling, and remain concerned for anyone in our community who is experiencing harm related to this situation. SBLSD is here to provide safe spaces and shared resources to help all of those affected.