Report: Calif. HS investigation of coach accused of sex abuse lasted 15-20 minutes

Former Kennedy assistant water polo and swimming coach Joshua Owens (Photo: Buena Park Police Department) Photo: Buena Park Police Department

Report: Calif. HS investigation of coach accused of sex abuse lasted 15-20 minutes

Water Polo

Report: Calif. HS investigation of coach accused of sex abuse lasted 15-20 minutes

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The Kennedy High School (La Palma, California) athletic director’s investigation into claims of sexual abuse against then-assistant water polo coach Joshua Owens lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, according to court documents obtained by the Orange Country Register.

Athletic director Dave Jankowski did not interview the freshman Owens was accused of targeting, the girl on the team he had allegedly sexually harassed or the former student-athlete on the team who acted as a whistleblower, according to the OC Register.

During the school’s investigation, which took place in December 2015, Jankowski only talked to Owens, head water polo coach Eric Pierce and another athletic director Dean Wang.

REPORTS: Kennedy swept allegations under the rug | Joshua Owens claims not properly vetted

In the deposition, Jankowski said the meeting with Owens took “five, ten minutes.”

He estimated the one with Wang was “maybe five minutes” and the one with Pierce was “probably about five minutes.”

Jankowski reported the allegations against Owens as a “misunderstanding” to the principal.

The school did not report allegations to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.

“I did not attempt to verify that (Owens) was lying to me,” Jankowski said in the deposition, according to the OC Register.

Owens was arrested nearly a year later, in November 2016, when a different water polo coach reported allegations to CPS.

Owens admitted to molesting a 15-year-old in a car in the faculty parking lot during school hours, according to the Orange County Register.

He pleaded guilty to one count of oral copulation with a victim younger than 16, one count of sexual penetration of a victim younger than 16 and six misdemeanor counts of child annoyance, according to the OC Register.

Morgan Stewart, an attorney for the players, believes Jankowski had motivation to not perform a proper investigation, according to the OC Register. Jankowski is married to a woman who he coached on the Kennedy High School basketball team from 1999-2003.

“Think in the context of an administrator who had an inappropriate relationship with a student while he was an adult, and went on to marry that student,” Stewart wrote in a March 12 letter to Anaheim Union High School District attorney Babak Shirdel, who is representing Jankowski.

“Do you think that individual is going to be a reliable source when reporting the crime of another coach who is doing the same thing? Do you think he might have an incentive to bury the sexual behavior of another coach, lest it shine the light on his behavior with a student.”

Around the time of that December 2015 investigation, anatomy teacher Ian Sabala was notified by a former Kennedy student who was on the water polo team that Owens was trying to “get at one of the freshman players.” The whistleblower alleged this wasn’t the first time Owens had done this and that he had dated a player a year before.

Sabala forwarded the email to some administrators including then-assistant principal Jack Jensen. Jensen responded the next day, according to the OC Register.

“Ian. We got to the bottom of this situation,” Jensen wrote. “It is not what was presented. I will stop by and explain.”

Jankowski said in the deposition he did not know who the alleged victim was, which was a reason he did not have “reasonable suspicion.”

It appears he put minimal effort, if any, into finding out who was the alleged victim: The deposition states Jankowski did not ask Pierce or Principal Russell Earnest about her identity and did not check the water polo roster for possibilities, according to the OC Register. He also did not speak with the whistleblower.

“After talking to the people that I talked to, I felt that I had sufficient information with what I needed to look into,” Jankowski said, according to the OC Register.

When Jankowski met with Principal Russell Earnest, he said Owens had agreed to “no longer put himself in a position where he would be alone with a student,” according to the OC Register.

Earnest gave Owens a “verbal warning” and told him “Don’t do anything stupid, basically,” the OC Register reported.

Owens was sentenced to six months in jail, according to the OC Register.

Jankowski’s wife was ordered by the Orange County Superior Court on May 31 to submit to a deposition, according to the OC Register.

The deposition would be “strictly limited to the nature of personal relationship” between the two while Jankowski was her high school coach.

Shirdel, Jankowski’s attorney, called the deposition for Jankowski’s wife “nothing more than a fishing expedition meant to harass and annoy” the family.

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Report: Calif. HS investigation of coach accused of sex abuse lasted 15-20 minutes
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