AUBURN, Wash. — On Monday night, a bright light spelled out "Support The Truth" on an administrative building just as the Auburn School Board and community members arrived for a meeting.
Outside the building, Russ Mentink said, "The truth is the most important thing." He is the father of Justin Mentink, who served as the Auburn Trojans baseball coach for the last five seasons before he was stripped of that title.
His wife, Rachelle Mentink, says it started in May.
"There was a family who had a false allegation against Justin about saying profanity about a certain player. The district did an investigation, and it was found to be false," she said.
Rachelle adds that the same family came forward again in June asking for a second investigation, and she claims the allegation was found to be false again.
Then in August, she says the family asked for a third investigation. This time the school district had a new human resources director and teachers had a new union representative.
"All they did was interrogate the coaches based on them interviewing the student who already had been found twice to have lied," said Rachelle.
She acknowledges the investigation did find some profanity-laced private text messages about the player that two assistant coaches had exchanged.
"It was because a third investigation was being open and of course they were upset. Should they have said those things? Probably not," said Rachelle. "Justin never said those things."
Now Justin Mentink is no longer coach. The school district and school board say they will not comment on personnel matters, but supporters wearing 'Team Mentink' T-shirts did attend Monday's meeting.
"The community has seen what's happened, and I don't want this to happen to other coaches. It is just not fair," said Rachelle.
While the Auburn School District will not comment on the personnel issue, a spokesperson did say that coaches can file grievances if they do not agree with a district decision.
Justin Mentink continues to work for the district as a teacher.
The player’s lawyer sent KING 5 the following statement on Tuesday:
“The Auburn School District retained an independent investigator to address an allegation of retaliation by a former coach and had its own Human Resources staff look into how prior complaints by multiple individuals against that same former coach had been handled. Our clients recognize that the District is in the process of implementing corrective actions as a result of what it learned during both of those investigations. Many of the statements that are being made in support of the terminated coach are not accurate. For example, action was previously taken against him for the use of obscenities, something that was substantiated by multiple players and in multiple investigations. This former coach was terminated for violating multiple district policies. His behavior remains deeply concerning. Attacking the teenagers who were truthful during these investigations is unfortunate. The focus should be on ensuring that there is a safe and positive baseball season under the new coaching staff, recognizing that the former coach has procedures available to him if he wants to challenge his termination.”