Bothell reponds to football incident

Does the infamous Seattle Times article really capture what went down this summer?

Michael Marquess II, Reporter

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On the 27th of October, 2019, The Seattle Times published an article on the alleged cases of sexual assault within the Bothell football team. The incident is now met with an influx of attention and scrutiny.

So what exactly happened? Well, according to a police report filed by SRO Officer Garrett Ware, (which the Seattle Times article used as their main source of info), much of the accounts of sexual harassment stemmed from the summer football retreat, Camp Bothellhood. According to the report, the boys would “put their fingers in other players’ butt cheeks in a joking manner.” Contrary to any rumors that speak of rape, there was no rape or intercourse of any kind, rather the “person receiving the action was fully clothed and there was no penetration […]” Authorities were quickly notified, however, as the victim in question spoke out to officials, and incriminating video evidence from the cafeteria security camera was taken into account. Although a report was filed by Officer Ware, and the main administration of the school and parents of the victims and perpetrators were contacted and informed, charges were ultimately never filed against the perpetrator. After speaking to the boys in their entirety about the inappropriateness and intolerance of sexual horseplay, Officer Ware felt as though he had properly communicated to them, saying that “I felt the team was engaged and understood what I was trying to pass on.”

According to an anonymous direct witness from within the football team, the entire situation seems a bit overblown. “It was too general to really represent what really happened. […] There were some things that were said in the article that weren’t entirely factual.” To him, the whole article paints the entire football team in a bad light. “The Seniors don’t really want to associate themselves with what really went on. [The Seniors] were on the completely other side of the room when ‘it’ was happening.”

According to him, Seniors were positioned opposite of the underclassmen during their recreational time in the cafeteria. When several of the Sophomores and Freshmen ganged up on the victim to enact their harassment, the Seniors sat from afar to witness the entirety of the event(s) unfold. To this extent, our source claims that the Seattle Times article fails to consider the social gap between the two classes.

“Freshmen and Sophomores are pretty connected, as far as mindset, because they’re all pretty young. You go to Juniors, it’s a little bit more developed, and the Seniors are a whole ‘nother group on their own.” he clarifies. “So that [Seattle Times article] really doesn’t represent the Seniors. And that’s what everyone thinks, that the starters [the players on the field] are the ones who committed hazing and stuff like that… but that’s not true.”

We approached Seattle Times investigative reporter Geoff Baker, writer of the article in question, in hopes of clarifying his intention, as well as his insights on the Bothell story. To him, the reports of sexual harassment in the team was something that absolutely had to be exposed. 

“We got a tip from a parent at the school that was concerned that there was a sexual assault investigation going on, and the parent was concerned that the school was going to try and cover it up in order to favor the football team.” Although Baker has no way of confirming the validity of the tip, it was enough for him to jump on the story. “The minute we heard that, we filed a public records request.”

His request for a police report landed him two write-ups pertaining to sexaul assault amongst the football team. One revolved around the most recent incident, while the other one came from an earlier incident in April. Here, the term “Rape Squad” is thrown around in the police report, while any mentions of “Rape Squad” are nonexistent in the September report, leading Baker to question whether the two reports pertain to two isolated incidents. Our anonymous source confirmed this suspicion, saying that “Rape Squad” was only prominent last year. “I think the article is pretty truthful in that part, about ‘Rape Squad.’”

When asked about our source’s concerns of blanketing the entire football team in a negative light, Baker claimed that such reputation is not the most important concern as of now. “At this point, we’re more interested in the allegations themselves, rather than how the football team might be perceived afterwards.” he responds. “The reputation of this high school football team is so insignificant compared to what these allegations are.”

As of now, Baker and his colleagues plan to follow up on their inflammatory article.