A Call for Witnesses: Survivors of Michael Joseph Basse
Former youth sports coach Michael Joseph Basse was arrested on April 21, 2023, and charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse against children. Basse, who also goes by “Mike Basse,” used to work in the University Place School District as a substitute employee. He was involved in community youth sports programs as a baseball and jujitsu coach.
PCVA is currently investigating the allegations against Michael Joseph Basse. If you or someone you know has any information that could help in these efforts, please contact us.
This article provides frequently asked questions about Basse, sexual abuse and how PCVA’s experienced sexual abuse lawyers can help.
What are the allegations against Michael Joseph Basse?
According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, 59-year-old Basse was taken into custody under suspicion of four counts of first-degree child rape, one count of second-degree child rape, four counts of third-degree child rape, four counts of first-degree child molestation and one count of second-degree child molestation. His alleged victims, of which there are six as of April 26, 2023, are reported to be between the ages of 9 and 15. However, authorities believe more victims are out there.
PCVA is currently gathering information about Basse’s alleged crimes. We know that the abuse reportedly occurred in a variety of locations, including at the YMCA in Gig Harbor, a parking lot at the University of Puget Sound, and at Tenchikan Dojo, a seibukan jujitsu training center. Basse would also allegedly groom his victims by gaining their trust and offering them alcohol. He also would communicate with them via social media and text messaging and allegedly asked multiple victims to send him graphic sexual images.
Is there any additional information about Michael Joseph Basse at this time?
PCVA knows that Basse was employed by the University Place School District during the years 2007 to 2016 as a substitute classroom assistant and health room paraeducator, and was very involved in activities that put him in direct contact with children. Because he was a substitute employee, he worked at different locations within the district on different days. He also volunteered with the University Place School District through the PTA at Sunset Primary School and Narrow Views Intermediate School.
Basse also worked as a youth sports coach in the community and may have used his position as a “trusted” coach to exploit young athletes. He coached baseball as well as jujitsu and was affiliated with Tenchikan Dojo in Tacoma. It is not uncommon for perpetrators of child sexual abuse to work or volunteer in positions that give them access to victims. PCVA has worked on many cases in which a teacher or a youth sports coach exploited their position as a trusted authority figure to harm children.
How common is sexual abuse in youth sports?
Unfortunately, the allegations against Basse are not unique. Sexual abuse in youth sports is not a rare occurrence. The Foundation for Global Sports Development, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of abuse-free sport for youth, reports that sexual abuse in sports occurs far more often than one might imagine. Conservative estimates are that between 2% to 20% of childhood athletes experience sexual harassment or abuse.
The number of criminal matters and civil lawsuits alleging abuse by coaches and other adults responsible for youth sports programs has been growing.
What are the signs of sexual abuse among minors?
The signs of sexual abuse will vary depending on the minor’s age and can present themselves physically, behaviorally or emotionally. While there may be other causes behind some signs of abuse, it is important to trust your gut. Addressing sexual abuse can be painful, but the sooner you take action, the better off the minor in your care will be.
Among minors, warning signs can be difficult to spot, but include the following:
- Evidence of trauma to the genital area
- Sudden regression to old habits such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking
- Excessive knowledge of sexual topics
- Overly compliant behavior
- Spending an excessive amount of time alone
- Changed eating habits
- Reduced self-esteem
- Lost interest in daily activities
- Sudden fear of being away from primary caregivers
Signs that an adult may be grooming a minor for future abuse include:
- Fails to respect boundaries
- Tries to be a child’s friend rather than an adult role model / does not seem to have an age-appropriate relationship.
- Spends time alone with a child outside of their role in the child’s life
- Gives gifts without reason
What is the statute of limitations in Washington State for child sex abuse?
In Washington State, a special statute of limitations allows many victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits for the abuse they suffered many years later, even as adults. The law recognizes that survivors of childhood sexual abuse may not realize or appreciate how the sexual abuse harmed them until much later in life. If you were sexually abused, please contact us so that we can confidentially explain your legal options.
How PCVA Can Help
Our nationally recognized attorneys have represented thousands of sexual abuse survivors, helping them achieve justice by holding the institutions that failed to protect them accountable and recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in damages on their behalf. Our attorneys have been involved in some of the most complicated and concerning sexual abuse cases in the country and are often consulted by other law firms for guidance and expertise when representing sexual abuse survivors.
If you have information about Michael Joseph Basse and these allegations of child sexual abuse, our attorneys are here to listen and help. Please reach out to one of our experienced lawyers by completing our online form or calling us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850. All conversations are completely confidential.
Should I file a sex abuse lawsuit?
The decision to file a civil lawsuit over damages caused by sexual abuse is a personal one, and several factors must be considered. A lawsuit will allow you to expose the wrongs of your perpetrator and potentially receive financial compensation for your pain. However, you will have to provide information about the trauma you experienced as well as other aspects of your personal life.
PCVA’s sexual abuse attorneys are trained in trauma-informed counsel. This means that to prevent re-traumatization, we have undergone professional training on how to work with individuals who have been subjected to trauma. When you work with us, know that you are working with an advocate who represents you with the utmost empathy and care.
Our Case Results
PCVA alone has handled numerous cases of athlete sexual abuse. Here are links to a few examples:
- $7.5M Settlement in Athlete Sexual Abuse Case Against Black Hills Football Club
- $1.5M Settlement in Athlete Sexual Abuse Case Against Black Hills Football Club
- $6M Settlement in Sexual Abuse Case Against United States Bowling Congress
- $3M Settlement in Athlete Sexual Abuse Case Against Seattle Public Schools
- $4.2M Settlement in Athlete Sexual Abuse Case Against University Place School District