September 21, 2015
A former Thurston County woman has filed and served a lawsuit that accuses a youth soccer coach of sexually exploiting her, eventually engaging her in sexual intercourse, when she was a 17 year-old player. The woman, identified only by the initials B.W., alleges that former St. Martin’s University Men’s Soccer and Black Hills Football Club Coach David E. Cross began grooming her at age 13 and ultimately engaged in sex acts with the then-minor player multiple times, including before soccer try-outs and on trips with the team. The lawsuit names the youth league B.W. played in, Black Hills Football Club, as well as Cross and his wife, as defendants.
The suit, filed by Tacoma attorneys Darrell Cochran and Kevin Hastings on behalf of B.W., states that B.W. was a member of the Black Hills Football Club’s “A” team coached by Cross. Cross occasionally texted his favorite soccer players, but by January 2009, Cross was texting B.W. frequently. The texts started as mentoring messages but moved to personal questions about B.W.’s sexual experience with boys. Texting then turned into in-person encounters and culminated in sexual intercourse.
“Cross’s behavior is textbook grooming,” Cochran said. “A perpetrator with a position of power who secretly and systematically showers someone under his or her control with more and more attention. At some point he knew he had enough power over B.W. that he could move the relationship beyond the bounds of coach-and-player,” said Cochran.
Cross had intercourse with B.W. multiple times at various locations around Thurston County and on trips out-of-town with the soccer team, including Disneyland, according to the lawsuit. The suit also alleges that Cross took pictures of himself having sex with the then-17 year-old player.
A Lacey Police Department report from February 2010 documents how at one point Cross was discovered by police alone with B.W. after 9 at night in his work van. When a Lacey Police Officer in his patrol car approached Cross’s van as a suspicious vehicle, Cross turned the van on and drove away. The officer caught up with Cross and pulled him over. When questioned, Cross told the officer that he had pulled over because of a “medical condition” and that he and B.W. were “just talking”.
The officer noted in his report that, “I did not believe (Cross) had to stop for a medical condition and furthermore as a coach and adult I felt his actions were highly suspect and inappropriate.”
The incident was forwarded to Lacey Police detectives at the time, but there is no record of any further action by the department until January of this year, when B.W. contacted Lacey detectives directly. B.W. gave detectives more information about the abuse by Cross, including specific details of the location and nature of the sexual acts, as well as the damage the abuse has done to her ever since. Although the case was referred to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, prosecutors have declined to prosecute Cross citing concerns with the statute of limitations.
“The criminal justice system may have failed her, but she is determined not to let this happen to another youth player,” B.W.’s attorney Kevin Hastings said. “She wants the truth to be known and forcing these defendants to answer in civil court appears to be the only way that’s going to ever happen.”
Black Hills Football Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that claims on its website to be “the premiere level soccer club of the Thurston County Youth Soccer Association.” The lawsuit claims that Black Hills Football Club failed to protect B.W. from her coach, and that the organization knew or should have known that a soccer coach “could or would exploit young soccer players” and that the failure of the club to properly supervise Cross and his teams led to the abuse suffered by B.W.