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SHS coach accused of relationship with player

A former Sequim basketball coach is awaiting charges this week for allegedly having a relationship with an underage player.

Sequim Police opened an investigation on March 21 into 28-year-old Jerry Pedersen, SHS assistant varsity girls basketball coach, after allegations emerged that he had an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old player.

Police interviewed high school staff and students and later obtained cell phone records and stored data that led to Pedersen’s arrest on Tuesday, April 1.

Det. Sgt. Sean Madison of the Sequim Police Department said they originally sent Pedersen’s case to the Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office with 11 Class C felony charges of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes via text messages.

Madison said the prosector’s office declined to charge Pedersen with the felonies and sent it back to the City of Sequim to try Pedersen with 11 gross misdemeanors.

However, Madison said he has discussed the case with the prosector’s office again and he’s sent the case back to that office to reconsider felony charges.

There is no timeline for a decision on whether Pedersen will be charged with misdemeanors or felonies, Madison said.

If Pedersen is convicted of a Class C felony, he must register as a sex offender.

Pedersen was held in Clallam County Correctional Facility and later released following his arrest.

Reported to authorities

Pedersen and the 15-year-old girl had been in the relationship about five months, Madison said. A parent heard students discussing it and reported the relationship to police directly and not Sequim High School, Madison said.

“The high school only found out about it when I told them,” Madison said.

Pedersen had been a volunteer assistant varsity girls basketball coach under head coach Evan Still since November 2012.

Still declined to comment regarding the allegations.

Madison said they found no evidence that Pedersen was inappropriately involved with any other team members or students and that no other coaches or staff are being investigated.

“It involves one man and one student,” Madison said.

Sequim Schools District Superintendent Kelly Shea said the district removed Pedersen from his position once the allegations came out.

Whether Pedersen can coach again depends on the investigation, he said.

“(The) reality of it all is that with these (coaching) positions there’s a great deal of trust. It’s either going to be broken or seriously questioned,” Shea said.

“For him to continue working with children is unlikely, but there is an outside chance all of this is fabricated which does leave the option of him returning,” Shea said.

Like other volunteers coaches in the school district, Pedersen was fingerprinted and given a volunteer checklist that includes information on student/coach interaction.

Madison said there’s no dispute that there are criminal acts.

“It’s going to be prosecuted,” Madison said. “It’s a discussion which court would be more appropriate with (misdemeanor or felony) charges.”

Pedersen graduated from Sequim High School in 2004.

 

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