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Former students allege sexual abuse by teacher, claim Seattle Prep 'knew or should have known'

Seattle Prep disputes that the administration had any knowledge of inappropriate conduct at the time.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated the coach's teaching certificate was revoked. The certificate remains valid following an appeal.

Seattle Prep is facing two lawsuits by attorney Darrell Cochran who is representing two women who allege they were sexually abused when they were students.

"Both of these women at the time were very good athletes at Seattle Prep,” Cochran said.

The lawsuit, filed last week, names the women by initials only and claims that two decades ago, when they were minors, the school failed to protect them from a coach who was also a teacher at Seattle Prep. KING 5 is not naming him because he has not been criminally charged.

"During his time, in the early 2000s in particular, he was grooming a number of young female athletes, student athletes at Seattle prep, and sexually abusing them,” said Cochran.

The coach helped lead the school's varsity softball team, and eventually became Seattle Prep's athletic director. Records show he regularly received positive performance evaluations from the school, but the lawsuit alleges that Seattle Prep “willfully turned a blind eye” to what was happening off the field. The school denies that allegation.

"We know that there were faculty, there were staff people, there were fellow coaches within Seattle Prep who had concerns,” said Cochran.

Some of those concerns are listed in an investigation completed by the state's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Within OSPI’s report are portions of a letter from a former student that was sent to the president of the school's Board of Trustees in September of 2020, claiming the coach used "grooming techniques" and "emotional manipulation" that made the "transition to sexual advances seamless." The report also states that the coach spent time with female students on campus, occasionally in his office with the door closed, and off campus accompanying students on shopping trips and to dinners. 

OSPI is in the process of revoking the teacher's Washington education certificate. However, he is appealing, and his certificate will remain valid through the process.

“The final order of revocation has been appealed and he will be going for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. This means that at this time, his certificate remains valid and will remain valid throughout the process," a statement from an OSPI spokesperson reads.

The lawsuit states that the school “knew or should have known” that he was a sexual predator.

A spokesperson for Seattle Prep issued the following statement:

"The safety and well-being of our students at Seattle Prep is of paramount importance. Seattle Prep has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct and has long-established prevention, protection, and reporting protocols in place. Seattle Prep is currently addressing two claims of sexual misconduct dating back to circumstances alleged to have occurred two decades ago. Seattle Prep disputes that the administration had any knowledge of inappropriate conduct at the time. In fact, one of the plaintiffs has acknowledged that a sexual relationship did not occur until after she had graduated and was no longer a student. Seattle Prep will assert all of its legal defenses to these claims. However, Seattle Prep will approach these claims with respect and compassion for the plaintiffs." 

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