A former student-athlete filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Valley Christian High School and ex-varsity basketball coach Greg Marshall on Tuesday for abuse that she said took place in the early 2000s.
Marshall, according to the lawsuit, began sexually abusing and grooming young girls on his team shortly after was he hired as a basketball coach in the 2001-02 school year.
A police investigation into Marshall’s time teaching at the private San Jose school in 2004 and 2005 found that at least two female student-athletes were victims of his abuse.
“I am anticipating through this [lawsuit] we are going to learn about others because Marshall went on to have access to children for many, many years,” attorney Lauren Cerri said. “We don’t know [how many] yet, but I am sure there are many others.”
Allison Brown, one of the two victims identified, is the plaintiff in this lawsuit and the second known victim of Marshall.
Brown and the other victim both filed separate lawsuits seeking Marshall’s prosecution for his alleged crimes and to hold Valley Christian accountable for ignoring his “predatory behavior” and enabling his abuse.
“I’m filing this lawsuit because Valley Christian High did nothing to protect me and other students from the predatory behavior of Greg Marshall,” said Brown. “Valley Christian failed me and the last thing I want is for any other student at that school or any other school to go through what I endured in my childhood.”
Brown said her coach “boldly committed countless sexual assaults” while she was a student, both on and off campus.
“The first time he tried to kiss me was on the school elevator,” she said. “I stopped him by putting my hand up and said ‘no.’ When I asked Marshall the next day about why he tried to kiss me he said, ‘It’s clearly something you are not ready for and I thought you were.’”
Brown said grooming started when she was 15 and by 17 the abuse began.
But it took nearly 15 years since the abuse for her to come forward to police in 2018, with Brown stating she found courage from the many gymnasts who came forward in the Larry Nassar Olympics case.
However, Brown wasn’t the first to say something about Marshall’s actions.
Tracey Walter, Brown’s teammate and the first known victim of Marshall’s sexual abuse, filed a police report in 2006 while attending Santa Clara University.
Following her 2006 police report, Marshall was placed on administrative paid leave pending investigation and his employment contract was not renewed. “The only known action that Valley Christian took in response was to quietly and confidentially remove him from his position as a coach and teacher while continuing to allow him unfettered access to its campus,” Brown’s attorney, Robert Allard, said in a news release.
The reason the school stayed quite regarding the accusations, Allard claimed, was because it was determined to make its campus a hub for top tier athletics.
“Valley Christian High School had every opportunity to stop Marshall before he sexually abused my client,” Allard said. “Instead, the school was acutely focused on building its image and reputation through Marshall and his family particularly in sports.”
In 2006, Marshall’s three children were excelling in sports at Valley Christian High and he was allowed on campus to attend games and assist with coaching in various sports, Allard said. And a decade before Brown came forward to authorities in 2018, her parents provided proof of their daughter’s sustained abuses to the school’s athletic director, but authorities were not called, according to the lawsuit.
“By this time, Valley Christian was blinded by all of the acclaim that all three of Marshall’s children were bringing to Valley Christian in its quest to become an athletic powerhouse,” Allard said.
But a Valley Christian spokesman said the campus took “swift and immediate action” in 2006, when first informed of the abuse allegations.
“The employee [Marshall] was placed on leave, and his employment contract was not renewed,” Rob Valiton, Valley Christian Schools Chief Operating Officer, said. “These prompt actions directly contradict any claim that [Valley Christian Schools] ignored or sought to cover up any report of alleged sexual misconduct.”
Brown, however, said those actions were far from enough.
In addition to personal damages, Brown is demanding that Valley Christian totally restructure its child protection system across all of its campuses.
To Brown that would mean a thorough screening process for anyone in contact with students; proper ongoing training for anyone who has access to students; education for students and athletes regarding body boundaries to help them identify inappropriate or predatory behavior; and the creation of a safe, trusted program that would allow students to report such abuse.
“The reality is 1 of every 10 students will be sexually abused by an educator by the time they graduate high school,” Brown said. “Coaches and teachers are number one offenders. Your children are not protected at Valley Christian or any school simply because they stand under Christian values or [are] private in nature.”
Because private schools do not have to adhere to state guidelines and trainings, they essentially “govern themselves,” Brown said, making it far more essential for campuses like Valley Christian to make the changes.
Marshall has already admitted to the abuse and was arrested in January of 2019. At the time of his arrest, he was working as a coach at Branham High School in San Jose.
Police said Brown coming forward in 2018 reopened the investigation.
Marshall is awaiting trial on 12 counts of sexual penetration with a minor and 12 counts of oral copulation with a minor—all of which are felonies.