The story went out over the air early Friday afternoon. A police dispatcher had requested that an officer proceed to 920 McGilvra Boulevard to investigate the report of a sexual assault at the Seattle Tennis Club. The Central District News, a neighboring blog which regularly monitors the police scanner, reported the call on its website the next day. So while the story became public in a kind of back-channel way, the details were not known.
Rumors about the incident, meanwhile, began making the rounds of STC members and the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the Club. Since the story first broke, I’ve been trying to find out whether this was an isolated incident that just happened to occur in Madison Park or something that the community as a whole should be concerned about. Not to minimize the situation—if it’s indeed true—but the incident doesn’t merit being sensationalized. Nevertheless, it is serious.
The Seattle Police have confirmed that there is an active investigation underway of an allegation that a minor was sexually assaulted at the Club on July 7, last Wednesday, two days prior to the date on which the incident was reported to the police. Beyond that the police would provide little information. They did acknowledge, however, that the alleged perpetrator was a known individual and certainly not some unidentified, on-the-loose sexual predator.
Club General Manager Silja Griffin was a bit more forthcoming when I spoke to her this afternoon. She told me that the incident involved two junior members of the Club, both male, and that it occurred in the boys’ locker room. Junior members are children between the ages of 9 and 21 of active club members, so the alleged perpetrator could therefore have been either a minor or an adult. Griffin told me that the mother of the alleged victim reported the situation to the Club and that she and the mother agreed that the police should be called in to investigate. The call was made from the Club. According to Griffin, the Club itself is looking into the episode, and she will be reporting about it to the STC board next week. Expulsion from the Club is one possible outcome, she said.
The police matter is quite a bit more serious. Detective Mark Jamieson of the SPD tells me that incidents of this kind will normally be handed over to the department’s Sexual Assault & Child Abuse Unit if the initial investigation shows there’s cause to do so. In this case, he believes, it is likely that the matter has already been referred to the unit. Once that unit has completed its work, the police may refer the case to the King County Prosecutor’s Office to begin criminal proceedings. It will take some time, he said, for the process to play out.
At this point all we have is an allegation, as both Jamieson and Griffin noted when I spoke with them. However, everyone is taking this matter very seriously—and that certainly includes the two Seattle Tennis Club families involved.