Former Pierce Co. coach, teaching assistant charged with child sex abuse

Apr 26, 2023, 7:04 AM | Updated: 10:00 am

University Place School District sexual abuse...

University Place School District. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

A former youth baseball coach, martial arts instructor, and University Place School District employee is now charged with raping and molesting multiple children over nearly a decade.

Michael Basse, 59, was arrested April 21 and was charged in Pierce County Superior Court Monday. He faces eight counts of child rape and five counts of child molestation.

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Court documents say a victim first came forward to the University Place Police Department in October 2022. The victim said his first sexual encounter with Basse was in a parking lot outside the University of Puget Sound when he was 15 years old. Basse offered and then performed oral sex on the victim.

Charging documents indicate the alleged abuse involved multiple victims– young boys ranging in age from 9 to 17 years old at the time of the incidents. Some reported being assaulted by Basse at Tenchikan Dojo in Tacoma. Others say they were in contact with Basse when he worked as a baseball coach of a boys team in University Place.

Tacoma law firm Cochran Douglas has been retained as victims’ advocates in this case and is looking into the facts of the cases. Attorney Loren Cochran says his clients told him Basse would “become kind of a mentor and volunteer his time with these individual kids, and when he got them alone, he would sexually abuse them.”

According to prosecutors, the abuse outlined in the charges occurred between 2007-2016. That is the same period when Basse was an employee of the University Place School District. The district clarified that Basse was never a teacher or coach at any of their schools, instead working as a part-time classroom assistant and health paraeducator. He was terminated in July of 2016 after he was found to be making inappropriate comments and sending inappropriate messages to kids, according to district officials.

The district said in a statement, “Neither our investigation nor the investigation conducted by police involved any reports of inappropriate touching or physical sexual abuse.”

Officials also said there was no indication that the crimes for which he is charged are related to his work in the district and that the incidents took place at other locations.

However, Cochran told KIRO Newsradio he is stunned the University Place school district did not disclose the reason for Basse’s firing sooner.

“They had knowledge enough to terminate his employment… but didn’t inform the students or their parents,” Cochran said. “If you find out that one of your own employees has been doing something inappropriate — sexually inappropriate — then you have a duty to go out there and make sure kids in the district are not victims.”

Cochran also said Pierce County prosecutors told the judge in court Monday that more victims were being interviewed by detectives and more criminal charges against Basse are expected to be filed.

Judge Ronald Culpepper ordered Basse to be held in custody with a bail of $250,000.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. Additional resources are available on the Washington State Department of Health’s website.

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