Thurston County football league to settle over former coach's child molestation

Staff writerJanuary 22, 2014 

A youth football league based in Thurston County has agreed to pay a boy a "six-figure" settlement to avoid a civil lawsuit filed because he was molested by his former coach in 2009, when he was 12-years-old.

A civil trial alleging that the Black Hills Junior Football League was negligent in its hiring and supervision of former coach Derwin Pasley was set to go to trial Wednesday morning in Thurston County Superior Court. However, the parties agreed to a settlement Tuesday to avoid trial.

In October, 2010, the former BHJFL coach Pasley was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for molesting three boys, two former players on the football team he coached, and a 13-year-old he ministered to at an Olympia church in 2002.

One of the former football players molested by Pasley filed the civil suit that was settled out of court on Tuesday. The boy's attorney, Thaddeus Martin of Lakewood, and the BHJFL's attorney, Gregory Turner, both said they were barred from releasing the exact dollar value of the settlement due to a confidentiality agreement signed by the parties.

Police arrested Pasley and charged him with child molestation in 2009, after a 14-year-old boy Pasley coached in the BHJFL told them that Pasley had molested him.

The Black Hills Junior Football League has no affiliation with Black Hills High School. It is also not to be confused with a Thurston County youth soccer league with a similar name.

The boy told police that Pasley had molested him in Pasley's car after he drove him home from a football game.

The other BHJFL victim came forward later. The third victim, a then 13-year-old boy, alleged that Pasley molested him in 2002 while Pasley was serving as his youth pastor at Risen Faith Fellowship in Olympia. The molestation was reported to police at the time, but there was not sufficient evidence then to proceed with criminal charges, a Thurston County prosecutor has said.

Martin's lawsuit alleging negligence by the BHJFL alleged that the league's president, Charles Farrar, conducted an inadequate background check.

However, in a phone interview Tuesday, BHJFL attorney Turner said Farrar conducted a criminal background check on Pasley at the time of his hire, and nothing showed up.

"The league had no idea" Pasley was a child molester, Turner said.

In 1994, Pasley was arrested in Florida on suspicion of  a felony sex offense against a child in Dade County, court papers state. Pasley was acquitted of two counts of sexual battery against a child there, according to Olympia police.

Washington bars unfounded child-abuse allegations from third-party disclosure, so Pasley's acquittal would not have shown up on a criminal background check.

Martin said the BHJFL should have been required to conduct more than a simple criminal background check to protect vulnerable children. Martin added that the league also did not have proper policies and procedures in place to protect children from molesters, including rules about coaches riding with team members alone in cars.

The league has since adopted such policies, Martin said, but he added, "it's not a good idea to wait until there are victims to put something like that in place."

Turner said Tuesday that the football league "is happy with the resolution" of the civil lawsuit filed by the former player. Turner added that both the league's insurer and Pasley himself have agreed to pay the litigant, who is now 17.

Martin said the 17-year-old is recovering from Pasley's molestation. "I think he's going to be okay," Martin said. "It's obviously going to impact him for some time."

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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