A Sacramento, Calif., school “knew or should have known” that its former softball coach was a predator who pursued students for sexual gratification, according to a lawsuit filed this week that was obtained by the Sacramento Bee.
Per the Bee, the civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bailey Boone, who was 16 when she was sexually abused by St. Francis softball coach, Michael Martis. Martis was sentenced to four years in state prison in November after he pleaded guilty to having sex with minors.
Boone, now 21, accuses St. Francis and the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento of failing to protect her and other students from Martis while he was a softball coach from 2010 through 2014, according to the Bee.
One of her attorneys, Robert Wilson, told the Bee that Boone is looking to educate schools and parents about the dangers of “grooming,” a term that refers to the practice of befriending and gaining the trust of a child in order to take advantage of the youngster for sexual purposes. She is asking for unspecified damages for “severe emotional distress” as a direct result of her relationship with Martis, according to the lawsuit.
In a letter to parents of St. Francis students this week that was obtained by the Bee, school president Theresa Rodgers said that Martis passed a criminal background check required of all volunteers and staff members at the school, and that administrators hadn’t received complaints about him before he left in 2014 for a coaching position at Oak Ridge in El Dorado Hills.
“St. Francis High School stands for everything he does not,” Rodgers said in the statement. “We exist to nurture and support young women. We help them achieve their full potential as women of vision, as leaders and as productive citizens. Knowing that even one student was injured by him is one too many.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his victims.”
Boone played softball at St. Francis beginning in 2011 under the tutelage of Martis. According to the complaint, Martis “groomed” Boone for childhood sexual abuse during her freshman and sophomore years, building “emotional dependence and trust.” In 2013, the two began exchanging “sexually aggressive and inappropriate” text messages.
According to the suit, the two began having sexual intercourse in May 2013, when Boone was 16 years old.
You can read more of the Sacramento Bee’s reporting on the matter here.