Island County Sheriff’s Office faces $10M claim over serial pedophile

By Sara Jean Green | The Seattle Times

Two former Whidbey Island women who say they were sexually abused as children by their swim coach — a serial pedophile now serving a 40-year prison sentence in California — received a combined $1.4 million settlement this week from the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District, according to the women’s attorneys.

Like the other women who reached settlements with the district, the two women — who were each awarded $700,000 — were repeatedly molested and sexually assaulted by Andrew “Andy” King between the ages of 11 and 14, according to their lawsuits. One of the women now lives in New York City and the other, in San Diego.

To date, the district has paid out $6.3 million to five women, including the last two, who claim they were molested by King, the coach of the Oak Harbor Aquajets Swim Team between 1994 and 1997.

All of the lawsuits have been filed in King County, where some of the alleged abuse occurred in hotels during overnight swim meets. In the most recent case, Superior Court records show that the parties notified the court that a settlement was reached Jan. 2, though it wasn’t finalized until this week.

But the litigation isn’t over: Earlier this month, Seattle-area attorneys Lincoln Beauregard and Jay Krulewitch filed a tort claim against the Island County Sheriff’s Office for $10 million on behalf of the five women who have reached settlements with the park district. The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit, which can be filed 60 days after the initial claim.

The claim against the Sheriff’s Office came about as a result of an interview of a retired detective as part of discovery in the lawsuits against the park and recreation district, Beauregard said Tuesday.

The tort claim against the Sheriff’s Office says Steve Hall, a former sheriff’s detective who was also a member of the park district’s board, failed to investigate or report suspicions about King’s behavior with his young female swimmers to authorities as required by state law, according to Beauregard and the claim.

Hall and his wife, Janice, who was heavily involved in the swim team’s booster club, began hearing complaints about King from other parents — and they themselves observed girls regularly sitting on King’s lap soon after he arrived from California in 1994.

The Halls’ son was also a member of the Aquajets, according to court documents, included in the recent tort claim.

Beauregard called Steve Hall an honorable man who readily admitted his own failures and spoke truthfully about what happened with King. He said Hall and his wife helped connect King’s alleged victims with Beauregard and Krulewitch.

“What he did was noble. He’s trying to do the right thing now,” Beauregard said of Hall.

Beauregard filed the claim against the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 13. He said he didn’t know who would be representing the agency.

An undersheriff confirmed that a call seeking comment should be directed to the Island County Prosecutor’s Office. A voice message left for an assistant to Prosecutor Gregory Banks was not returned Tuesday.

Chris Kurley, the attorney who represented the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District, also could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Hall gave a deposition in February 2012 in Arizona, where he now lives, as part of an earlier lawsuit against the district that resulted in a $1.5 million settlement for the first woman to come forward. His deposition is among the documents included in the claim against the Sheriff’s Office, which was provided to The Seattle Times by Beauregard.

That woman reported King to Oak Harbor police in 2000, but the detective assigned to her case decided she didn’t believe the then-17-year-old’s account, later writing in her report that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against King, according to court records.

Nine years later, King was arrested in San Jose, Calif., on 20 counts of child molestation, a case that brought to light details of his predatory behavior against young girls that spanned decades.

Now in his mid-60s, King is serving a 40-year prison sentence in California for abusing more than a dozen young girls, including one whom he impregnated before he moved to Washington.

According to court records, King abruptly resigned as coach of the Aquajets in 1997 after learning the park district’s board planned to discuss reports of his inappropriate conduct and touching in an executive session; he quickly returned to California, where he continued to abuse girls as a swim coach.

During his deposition in early 2012, Steve Hall said: “One of the things that crushes me most is having enabled a 40-year child molester to continue his career past my involvement with him. Should I have done more? Absolutely.”

Hall, who had confronted King on at least one occasion, said in his deposition he couldn’t prove the rumors about King.

He also lamented that after the 17-year-old came forward in 2000, a “spineless prosecutor” refused to pursue a case against King, largely because authorities refused to take the word of “a little girl who had all kinds of emotional problems” — emotional problems that Hall intimated were a result of King’s abuse, according to the deposition.

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