Swim coach investigated in Oak Harbor is charged in California
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
June 22, 2009 · Updated 2:08 PM
A former coach of the North Whidbey Aquatic Club who mysteriously resigned amid complaints more than a decade ago has been charged in California with molesting young female swimmers, according to Santa Clara County Deputy Prosecutor Ray Mendoza.
The deputy prosecutor said 61-year-old Andrew “Andy” King was charged in May with 20 counts related to child molestation. If convicted, King will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Mendoza said investigators have identified a total of 10 girls who have been sexually assaulted by King during his 30-year career as a swim coach, though seven of those cases occurred outside the statue of limitations for the charges.
The tragic and possibly growing list includes a girl King coached in Oak Harbor in the 1990s. The girl’s mother sent an angry email to Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks last week, blaming him for not prosecuting King for child molestation all those years ago.
“There is really no telling how many young girls have been molested over the last 10 years because of your inaction in my daughter’s case,” the woman wrote. She didn’t want her name published in order to protect her daughter.
But the detective who worked the case explained that she and the chief criminal deputy prosecutor investigated the allegations thoroughly at the time, but they couldn’t come up with enough corroborating evidence to file charges.
The girl came forward in 2000 and reported to police that King had molested her five years before that, when she was 12 years old, according to Detective Sgt. Teri Gardner with the Oak Harbor Police.
“The delay in reporting definitely makes it more difficult to investigate,” Gardner said.
Janice Hall, former president of the team booster club, said she was visiting the victim’s family when the girl broke down and told her about the abuse; the young swimmer reported it to the police soon after.
“She thought she was the only one he did that to,” Hall said. She added that, in retrospect, the allegations explained a lot of King’s odd behavior.
Hall said many parents of girls on the swim team had complained about King to the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District. The allegations didn’t include anything blatantly criminal, but he was accused of such questionable conduct as having girls sit on his lap, rubbing their backs or giving them gifts.
Hall said the parks and recreation commissioners were scheduled to discuss the complaints with King in an executive session, but he never showed up for the meeting. He disappeared and sent his resignation to the district. In 2000, he was hired as a swim coach in San Jose, where officials apparently weren’t aware of any of the complaints or the criminal investigation.
Banks said former Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Selby handled the referral from Detective Gardner and made the decision not to prosecute; but Banks said he agreed with Selby and ultimately takes responsibility for the decision.
“I can’t discount her feelings about the fact he wasn’t prosecuted,” Banks said about the victim’s mother, “but we would have been extremely unlikely to get a guilty verdict.”
Banks said the investigators interviewed many of the former swimmers, but they didn’t report anything criminal. The girls said King had acted “creepy,” but the stories they told probably wouldn’t be admissible in court, according to Banks.
“He clearly had inappropriate intentions with the girls,” Banks said. “That made it all the harder to decline prosecution.”
- San Jose coach accused of molesting young female swimmers for 30 years | June 5, 2009
- New allegations against San Jose coach accused of fondling swimmers | June 16, 2009