Former Sumner High Varsity Basketball Coach Charged with Rape
By Angelica Relente - The Tacoma News Tribune | Follow the link to access the online article
Prosecutors have charged a former Sumner High School varsity basketball coach accused of sexually abusing players. Pierce County prosecutors charged Jacob “Jake” Jackson on Thursday with third-degree child rape, indecent exposure, first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor, two counts of third-degree child molestation and five counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Police investigators forwarded their findings to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on April 20, according to a post on the city of Sumner’s website. Police started investigating Jackson on Aug. 31.
Jackson’s arraignment is scheduled for May 11. He’s not in custody. He’ll get a summons to appear for the arraignment, Adam Faber, spokesperson for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, said Friday. Attorney Brett Purtzer, who is representing Jackson, said Friday that his client would enter a not guilty plea at arraignment, and that he had no further comment at this time. The News Tribune reported in March 2023 and October 2022 that families have filed lawsuits against Jackson. The News Tribune also reported in April 2023 that those two families and two others filed a claim against the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District as a precursor to a lawsuit, alleging that the district failed to protect the student athletes. “The criminal charges acknowledge that Jackson used his influence and power as a school authority figure to traumatize those children he was entrusted to protect,” attorney Loren Cochran of the Cochran Douglas law firm, who is representing the families, said in an email to The News Tribune on Friday. Jackson coached at Sumner High from 2016-22. As of September 2022, he no longer works at the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. He resigned. The abuse happened between 2019-22, according to the charging papers, which identify six victims. Charging papers give this account of what happened: The Sumner Police Department received a tip on Aug. 30, 2022, about Jackson, 35, inappropriately communicating with players. The tipster had screenshots that allegedly showed Jackson seeking sexually explicit photos, among other things.
The mother of a Sumner High basketball player contacted the police department the following morning about inappropriate conversations Jackson allegedly had with her son, according to the charging papers. The father of another basketball player called the department with similar concerns. The two players were interviewed at the police station the same day, charging papers say. One of the players said he was in 10th grade when Jackson began messaging him through his personal cell phone, Instagram and Snapchat. Jackson would ask the player for “progress pics” at the gym, among other things, according to the charging papers. Jackson allegedly sent the player shirtless photos showing his abdominal area in 2021-22.
The other player also said Jackson messaged him through his personal cell phone, Instagram and Snapchat, and that Jackson sent the player shirtless photos of himself. The police department notified the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District about the investigation Aug. 31, 2022, according to the charging papers. The school district put Jackson on administrative leave that night. The police department contacted the parents of the previous year’s basketball team. One of the players told investigators that Jackson gave him gifts for helping with yard work and had asked for photos of his penis in the summer of 2021.
The player broke down and cried at school a couple of days after he spoke to investigators, according to the charging papers, and said he hadn’t disclosed everything that happened to him. The player was re-interviewed and alleged that, when he was 15 years old, Jackson exposed himself and asked to see the 15-year-old’s genitals on more than one occasion. Another player told investigators Jackson would send photos of himself urinating, charging papers allege. There was allegedly a time Jackson showed the player his shoe collection at home and then masturbated in front of the player.
One player told investigators Jackson would send him a photo of his penis every 2-3 days when he was in 9th grade, charging papers said. He said he had never been to Jackson’s house. A different player told investigators Jackson molested him at Jackson’s home about 15 times. Investigators got search warrants for Jackson’s Instagram and Snapchat accounts as well as the minors’ accounts. Detectives didn’t find any explicit photos on Snapchat. The app automatically deletes content that’s been sent, charging papers say. The company responded to the warrant by saying, in part: “because much of a user’s content is encrypted, we often cannot retrieve user content except in very limited circumstances.”
Detectives found some sexually explicit content on one player’s Instagram account, which included Jackson talking about penis sizes, charging papers allege. The other accounts didn’t have any sexually explicit content. Some of the alleged abuse happened in a walk-in closet at Jackson’s home, according to charging papers. Investigators served a search warrant Nov. 8, 2022, and found semen in the closet, which the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab analyzed for DNA, charging papers allege.
The police department said anyone who has been sexually assaulted can make a report to the agency at 253-287-4455. Pierce County also offers a sexual assault support and information line at 253-474-7273.