'Coaches Who Prey' wins national award
The four-day series, reported by Maureen O'Hagan and Christine Willmsen and edited by James Neff, identified more than 150 coaches who were reprimanded or fired for sexually abusing female athletes in Washington state. Most continued to coach or teach after the incidents.
"A dramatic and disturbing exposé of betrayal of kids' trust. This extraordinary piece of revelatory journalism should send chills down the spines of parents nationwide," judges said.
The articles were published Dec. 14-17 and remain available through the link above.
It grew out of a court case O'Hagan covered in which Tony Giles, an Eastside basketball coach, was sentenced to prison for molesting a player on an elite club team. The two reporters worked on the series for 14 months, and the newspaper went to court to gain access to school-district records.
"The fact that all these young women were willing to talk with us about it was courageous," O'Hagan said.
After publication, more than 400 people contacted the writers with comments or tips. The Amateur Athletic Union and The Times subsequently examined AAU records, resulting in a March 7 newspaper report about felons found coaching amateur teams.
State lawmakers have passed three bills that await the governor's signature. The measures would require that school districts notify each other about employees' sexual misconduct, that school employees notify supervisors of suspected abuse, and that sexual-misconduct investigations be completed within one year by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The Scripps Howard award will be presented April 23 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. It includes a $5,000 cash prize.
Among other Northwest media, Rhonda Bride of KTUU in Anchorage won an award for small-market television reporting for a series on sexual abuse at a remote Alaskan boarding school. Theo Chargualaf of the University of Washington Daily was a finalist in college cartooning.
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