LO swim coach acquitted

Don King exonerated on charges he abused girls at Albany swim meet
by: Submitted, Don King

Athough Lake Oswego swim coach Don King was found not guilty last week of sexually abusing junior-high school girl swimmers, the Lake Oswego School District wants to conduct its own inquiry.

'Our investigation will begin now,' Superintendent Bill Korach said late last week. 'The district will commence its own fact finding.'

King is on paid administrative leave. Although the Linn County trial concluded last week, he also faces misdemeanor sex abuse charges in Clackamas County in a case that is expected to go to trial in early April.

King was acquitted on all counts in the Linn County trial. The jury deliberated about 2½ hours before returning the not-guilty verdict.

King, 66, was indicted in July in Linn County on six counts of sex abuse. Five of the counts were for felony sex abuse.

The allegations involve girl swimmers with King Swimming Club of Lake Oswego. The independent club held its practices at the Lake Oswego School District's pool.

The Linn County charges stem from incidents during a June swim meet in Albany. An off-duty Albany detective videotaped King committing the alleged abuse after being tipped off by the parent of a swimmer.

King served as Lake Oswego High School swim coach and operated a private team called King Swimming.

In the Linn County trial, prosecutor George Eder said King touched the girls for sexual purposes.

However, King's attorney Richard Cohen countered that he was a loving coach who did not have criminal intent when he touched the girls.

Korach said still photos and perhaps the videotape will help the school district's investigation.

He said the investigation would probably take several weeks. He hopes to speak with swimmers in King's program as well as other 'swim club people,' such as coaches, he said.

Korach said a Lake Oswego School District employee has to 'stand the test of our expectations of an employee,' and those expectations may be different than legal definitions of sexual abuse.

He said it is possible that King could be acquitted in Clackamas County and still not be reinstated as a school district coach, if the district's investigation concludes that King acted inappropriately.

'If the district found his behavior to be inappropriate, we can take action regardless of what the county does,' he said.

The district may also find that there was no inappropriate behavior and reinstate King, Korach said.

Cohen said he was 'grateful for the verdict' from the Linn County jury. He said he felt the jurors were 'open and fair and warm and very humanistic.'