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Ex-Sumner HS coach pleads not guilty to sexually abusing players

May 11, 2023, 3:49 PM

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Sumner High School (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

Former Sumner High School boys basketball coach Jake Jackson pled not guilty Thursday to allegedly sexually abusing six players from his team.

A judge ordered a $25,000 bond home confinement with an ankle-monitoring device, and for Jackson to have no contact with any minors except his own children. Some former players have already filed civil lawsuits against Jackson and the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District, claiming administrators did not take proper action after reported complaints.

The allegations stemmed from a civil lawsuit filed in Pierce County last year, where the Sumner coach — who was the head of the boys’ basketball team from 2016 to 2022 — was accused of sexual abuse and harassment of a player he previously coached, according to court documents.

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Jackson allegedly gave the victim free basketball equipment, gear, custom apparel, shoes, and envelopes full of cash, after originally meeting the victim at a Sumner Basketball Academy game. The coach began contacting the student with a company provided cellphone through Sterling Athletics — a sports apparel business owned and operated by Jackson’s father-in-law — via Instagram.

According to court documents, gift-giving from Jackson was a repeated pattern amongst the victims, including giving out shoes ranging from $400 to $1,200 in worth per pair.

According to the lawsuit, the coach then started to ask the victim sexually explicit questions and sent sexually explicit pictures — including photos of his abdominal muscles, his genitalia, and himself urinating — after offering the victim a job to work in a warehouse for Sterling Athletics that would pay more than $100 an hour.

Jackson would coerce the victims into sending pictures of their bodies to check on their growth and progress before asking for photos of their genitalia.

Jackson used the app Snapchat to send inappropriate photos to victims with timers sent so they would disappear from their phones while also using the app’s disappearing chat function to allegedly ask inappropriate questions about the victim’s genitalia and requests for photos. According to court documents, Jackson even asked a player to delete the app and to “lay low” because a parent had made a complaint.

Sumner Police Department Detective Troy Nikolao obtained search warrants for Jackson’s Snapchat and Instagram accounts, as well as Snapchat accounts for several of the individuals who disclosed electronic communications with their coach. No explicit photos were located in response to the warrants, according to court records.

“Because Snap’s servers are designed to automatically delete most user content as described in Section III “How Snapchat Works” above, and because much of a user’s content is encrypted, we often cannot retrieve user content except in very limited circumstances,” Snapchat wrote in response to the police warrant. “Memories content may be available until deleted by a user. My Eyes Only content is encrypted, and although we can provide the data file, we have no way to decrypt the data.”

The situation escalated further in the summer of 2020, when Jackson cornered the victim from the civil lawsuit in his home while naked and masturbated in front of him, the lawsuit stated. The victim went to the coach’s house to help with yard chores — something the coach asked multiple victims to do, according to ensuing documents.

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

According to court documents detailing Jackson’s charges, several more inappropriate instances occurred with the team’s players, including two victims who reported Jackson contacted them for more than 300 days in a row. Another victim told detectives after he was interviewed for a second time that Jackson compelled him to engage in mutual oral sex at least 10 times and intercourse once in the same closet.

Jackson has been formally charged with third-degree rape, first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor, two counts of third-degree child molestation, indecent exposure, and five counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

“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,” the district wrote in a statement acquired by KIRO 7. “We are taking this issue very seriously and continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement.

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

The district confirmed with KIRO 7 that Jackson is no longer coaching with the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District.

If Jackson is convicted, he could face up to five years in prison for each of the felony counts and up to one year in jail for the misdemeanor, according to The Seattle Times.

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Ex-Sumner HS coach pleads not guilty to sexually abusing players