Snapchat Messages Complicate School S*x Abuse Investigation

The Sumner Three adolescent lads gathered at the Jimmy John’s sub restaurant last August as students prepared to return to Sumner High School to think about a risky choice.

Together, they had gradually realized that they shared a dark experience: frequent requests to swap nude images from their basketball coach, Jacob “Jake” Jackson, it was said afterward reported to authorities.

Two agreed to talk to their parents over sandwiches, and a detective followed a few days later. Separately, four more colleagues debated the identical problem before advancing.

Their comments sparked a controversy that would stun this community of 10,000 people and engulf the famous young coach in civil and criminal investigations. Many players and their parents viewed the coach as a conduit for college basketball dreams.

Jackson and Sterling Athletics, the company he married into, were sued by two athletes and their families. Via the assistance of his civil attorneys Nicole Brodie Jackson and Jacob Roes, Jackson, 35, has refuted the accusations in court documents.

Brett Purtzer, his criminal defense attorney, refused requests for an interview on his behalf. Sterling Athletics is represented by Tacoma attorney Bertha Fitzer, who declined to comment.

Following the public disclosure of a criminal investigation into Jackson, he was placed on leave before resigning from the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District in October.

According to interview summaries attached to seven search warrants that The Seattle Times obtained, six former players between the ages of 15 and 17 told Sumner police officers that Jackson asked for and exchanged nude images of them with them.

The players claim that when they started high school, the harassment started. According to two players, Jackson allegedly touched himself for s*xual enjoyment in their company. Jackson felt the player was inappropriate. The player informed investigators.

According to court documents, the police discovered up to six additional potential victims. Authorities claim they have contacted these potential victims, but none have come forward to report the incident.

The criminal inquiry is ongoing seven months after the players contacted the authorities. According to prosecutor’s spokesperson Adam Faber, the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office awaits the Sumner Police Department to report its findings.

Snapchat Messages Complicate School Sx Abuse Investigation

Analyzing the publicly accessible records reveals that Jackson’s criminal case is facing challenges.

Jackson allegedly interacted with players using Snapchat, a platform that lets people post pictures that disappear after 10 seconds. Combined, the gamers reportedly shared over 100 photographs, according to police.

Nevertheless, the parent firm of the app, Snap Inc., informed police that the photographs were permanently lost on its systems due to Jackson’s and the players’ privacy settings.

The texts accompanying the photographs were provided, even though police claimed they had no probative value. According to court documents containing evidence obtained through a search request, the players did not save any graphic images to their phones.

The Washington State Patrol crime lab is experiencing substantial delays in processing DNA evidence found during a search of Jackson’s residence, further complicating the investigation. No time frame has been given for when it will end.

The investigation’s result is imminent. The police have repeatedly informed Jackson’s accusers. One accuser, known only as John Doe 1 in court documents, told The Seattle Times that “the date gets backed up — over and over and over again.” Typically, the publication does not identify suspected s*x crime victims.

Except for picking up his children from the elementary school, which is close to the high school, Jackson is not permitted on school district grounds. John Doe 1 claims that he receives flashes of his former coach, making him uneasy.

“Mind Games” And “Manipulation”

Even on weekday mornings, diners are busy in Sumner’s picturesque downtown, luring customers as they stroll between a continuous row of mom-and-pop shops. When there is a rare traffic bottleneck, the whistling of a freight train across Main Street is frequently to blame.

A two-story painting of Sumner High School’s mascot, a purple Spartan clutching a sword and shield, rises above it all, fittingly illustrating prep athletics’ place in the community’s psyche.

To protect his son’s identity, the father of John Doe 1 spoke anonymously about a conversation he had with a Jackson supporter who thought the coach “was being railroaded.”

“There’s a lot of people in the community that believe Jackson is innocent,” said John Doe 1’s father. “And there’s a lot of people that think it was just text messages or something less serious than it actually was. It’s a small community. There are strong opinions, and it’s an uncomfortable topic, but the truth needs to be out there.”
In the small town, opinions are firmly held. The Sumner News Index first carried an article about Jackson being the target of a second lawsuit, which was then removed off their website an hour later. “At this point I’d rather have this resolved in the criminal justice system and the courts than on Facebook,” wrote Publisher Mark Evers.

When Jackson was hired in 2016, it appeared to be a triumph for the Sumner basketball program.

At Lake Oswego High School in Oregon, the same prep school that launched former Washington State University standout, Klay Thompson, Jackson played varsity basketball alongside NBA legend Kevin Love. Jackson was a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona for the legendary coach Lute Olson.

“[Olson] taught you accountability and how to own up to your mistakes,” In a 2020 article on the prep sports website SB Live, Jackson was cited as stating.
“He taught you how to accept everyone for who they are. He taught you how to love everyone no matter their background or demographic. He taught you how to serve people without wanting anything in return.”

Before moving to Sumner, Jackson enjoyed success at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, where his final squad finished sixth and had a 21-4 record. Jackson has not been accused in the media of wrongdoing from his time at Peninsula.

He was well-known in Sumner for his vibrant personality and dedication to the players, even outside of the regular season. Players claim he hired them to labor around his Lake Tapps home and gave them expensive shoes and warehouse positions in his father-in-sports law’s clothing firm.

At least two of his players received college basketball scholarships, and the Sumner newspaper praised him for turning around the program’s tragic history.

Nevertheless, according to notes from Jackson’s 2018 performance review acquired by The Times, the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District was aware of concerns about his behavior with athletes well before the allegations appeared last fall.

“Concerns that have come to my desk,” including “mind games,” “manipulation,” and “specific text messages” to participants, were brought up by the administrator.

In February 2020, the district also received an anonymous complaint from someone purporting to be a parent to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which was also obtained by The Times.

“This Coach has constant personal contact [with players] in various forms,” the anonymous complainant wrote. “Texts, phone calls, [direct messages] and Snapchat. From the time he began coaching and through today. And it isn’t just his players. We are talking with kids as young as sixth grade.”

The complaint “does raise a slight issue concerning the practice of personal communication, such as texts with student-athletes,” according to school district spokeswoman Elle Warmuth. She claimed that when the district administration reiterated its demands on Jackson, “he had no issues with this.”

In response to the 2020 complaint, Jackson briefly removed his social media accounts, according to John Doe 1, but shortly started using them again to send and request nude photographs.

As the guys started speaking with police on August 31 and September 1, the picture surrounding Jackson since his arrival at Sumner began to fall apart.

“You’re The Only One”

The six players spoke with Sumner police and gave surprisingly identical accounts of their interactions with Jackson.

According to a complaint to the WIAA, he befriended them on social media with innocent discussions that allegedly began when they were still in middle school and then turned s*xual in high school, the athletes claimed.

Jackson’s accusers informed police that their coach was persistent and getting more inappropriate presence on their phones. One of the boys gave the police a Snapchat message history from Jackson that dated back more than 300 days.

According to the athletes that agreed with his request for nude pictures, Jackson would occasionally respond with the words “s*xy,” “love you,” and the words “You’re the only one.”

Some boys had been invited to Jackson’s enormous residence to go boating on Lake Tapps. One youngster claims that his coach engaged in masturbation in front of him in Jackson’s walk-in closet, which housed his vast shoe collection.

Jackson groped the other youngster’s genitalia in the closet four times, according to information provided to authorities by another boy.

Parents from Sumner crowded a School Board meeting on September 21, not long after Jackson was put on leave.

One of the players’ parents recorded the meeting, and it was evident from the video that some parents were concerned that their children had been hurt, while others were worried about the disturbance to the basketball team.

John Doe 1 claimed that, at first, he found offensive social media posts defending Jackson and disputing the veracity of his accusations. But several months of counseling have helped him put aside what people think.

Jackson resigned on October 17, according to Warmuth, more than six weeks after the police informed the school district of the accusations against him.

According to a letter from the district obtained by The Times, the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District barred Jackson from all district facilities on October 20, except the primary school where his kids attend.

“He used to be my role model,” John Doe 1 said. “I used to see the life he had — still involved with basketball, the house on the lake — as something I wanted for myself one day.”

According to his lawsuit, he felt under pressure to accede to Jackson’s frequent requests for images because he “did not want to lose [his] employment chances with Sterling Athletics or [his] playing time on the Sumner High School Boys’ Basketball team.”

This civil case has been put on hold while authorities investigate possible criminal activity.

Disappearing Messages

The carpet from Jackson’s walk-in closet and his and his accusers’ Snapchat and Instagram interactions were among the items sought by the police during their searches. Police also collected Jackson’s DNA.
The investigation’s final steps, however, have been complicated and delayed.

According to the search warrants, the State Patrol lab began analyzing the carpet swath in January, approximately a month after the Sumner Police Department submitted it. Nevertheless, according to spokesman Sgt. Chelsea Hodgson, the analysis is still incomplete.

Here are more articles related to school news we posted:

It has a massive backlog in handling s*xual assault cases, alarming the state. According to Hodgson, the delays are brought about by staff turnover, a lack of lab space, and the complexity of the cases.

The lab had reduced the backlog from 2,862 by December 2020 to 1,273 as of February. The Sumner case, however, is behind more than 730 other instances of a similar nature since there isn’t a s*xual assault kit to examine.

The apparent absence of a digital paper trail via the purported Snapchat communications presents a significant obstacle. Records from the investigation show that Jackson and his accusers set their texts to vanish instantly. A search warrant record states that “no such photos” were found on Snapchat’s servers.

Including technology intended to detect the sharing of s*xual pictures with children, a Snap Inc. representative said in an email, “We are always researching methods to make our platform even safer.”

Snapchat did not specifically address why it still permits hard encryption of shared photographs, which keeps them hidden from law authorities looking into s*x offenses against youngsters.

According to the Social Media Victims Law Center, a Seattle-based law practice focusing on social media firms, two legal actions against Snap about irretrievably erased conversations involving alleged drug dealers are currently active. Among their customers is a Renton family.

“Snapchat’s disappearing message function facilitates criminal activity by providing criminals with a built-in mechanism to destroy evidence of their crime,” said Matthew Bergman, the firm’s founding attorney.
An experienced investigator who wrote the search warrants retired from Sumner’s two-detective investigative squad at the end of February. The inquiry is currently being led by Deputy Police Chief Andy McCurdy of Sumner, who declined to discuss the circumstances of the case.
“We have to follow the evidence where it takes us,” McCurdy said in an interview over Zoom. “Sometimes terrible things happen, and lack of evidence makes it impossible to prosecute.”
The temporary nature of specific social media evidence “makes it challenging for us as investigators…,” McCurdy said. “It doesn’t diminish the credibility of the person who reported it, but it does make it more difficult to corroborate what they said.”
And to further frustrate the athletes’ families, a request by Tacoma attorney Loren Cochran to depose Jackson in connection with the civil claims has been put on hold until the inquiry is finished.
“I know [police] are doing their job, and it’s taking time to go through the mountain of evidence they have,” said John Doe 1’s father. “But the longer it goes, the more concerned I get that he won’t be held accountable.” 


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