Parents demand answers following former Camas coach’s rape charge

Father implores Camas School District officials to meet with girls wrestling team families to discuss arrest of former coach Mark Yamashita

Camas girls wrestling coach Mark Yamashita advises a Washougal wrestler during a Region 3 wrestling meet in Kelso, Wash., on Feb. 15, 2020. (Post-Record files)

In the wake of revelations that Mark Yamashita, the former head coach of the Camas High School girls wrestling team, is facing a felony charge for the third-degree rape of a child, Camas parents are demanding local school district officials do more to address wrestling families’ newfound questions and concerns.

One Camas father spoke publicly during a Camas School Board meeting on Monday, June 27, and urged board members to meet with wrestling families, answer students’ questions and conduct a wider investigation.

“My belief is that the school district is not giving this matter the attention it deserves,” Brandon Collier, the father of two Camas School District students, — including a member of the Camas girls wrestling team — told school board members Monday evening.

Collier asked school board officials on Monday meet with parents of female wrestlers and “engage in dialogue to address their concerns.”

“After talking to our wrestlers, the school district’s assumption that (no other minors) were harmed by Mark Yamashita is egregious,” Collier said. “These young women tried to voice their concerns to adults, including Camas School District employees, and those concerns (were) ignored, resulting in additional harm. It’s heartbreaking, to say the least.”

Vancouver police arrested the 49-year-old Yamashita on May 11, and charged the former Camas wrestling coach of raping a 16-year-old girl at a Seattle hotel during a trip to a club wrestling meet that was, according to reporting by The Post-Record’s sister newspaper, The Columbian, not affiliated with the Camas High School girls wrestling team.

According to Vancouver Police Detective Gunnar Skollingsberg’s May 11 declaration of probable cause, police believe Yamashita had been sexually assaulting the girl for more than a year before his arrest — beginning in March 2021, when the girl was 15 years old. Many of the alleged sexual assaults, according to court documents, took place at Yamashita’s Vancouver home.

According to court documents, the girl also told police Yamashita had sexually assaulted her “at basically every (club wrestling) meet” between February and May 2022.

Police stated in their probably cause declaration that Yamashita had “a history of ‘punishing’ (the girl) by making her remove her clothes, get in bed with him and (forcing) unwanted touching.”

According to court documents, witnesses told police the girl said Yamashita had raped her while they were staying at the Seattle hotel and that, “after it happened, she ran down to the lobby and slept there for the night.” A hotel manager later told police one of her employees had found “a young girl who was sleeping in the bathroom” of the hotel on the same date as the alleged rape.

In his message to the school board this week, Collier said he and his family learned about Yamashita’s arrest on June 14, while reading an article published in The Columbian newspaper.

Collier said he had — in the two weeks since learning about the arrest — reached out to the district’s interim superintendent, Doug Hood, as well as another Camas wrestling coach, Zane Freschette, and the newly appointed Camas High School athletic director, Stephen Baranowski, to ask why wrestling families had not been notified by school officials about Yamashita’s arrest or the rape allegations.

Having failed to receive an answer, Collier said he believed “the school district is not giving this matter the attention it deserves.” Collier said the district has not yet investigated “to determine if there are others within the community who have been victimized or other responsible adults who failed to protect our children.”

“In closing,” Collier said on Monday, “my wife and I care about the safety of our children very much and understand the importance of acting with integrity. We believe there are times in life when you must stand up for what is right — a sentiment shared by other concerned parents … there is no doubt this is one of those times.”

“Please help us support the young women who have been impacted by this terrible incident,” Collier implored the school board members. “We would appreciate having a sit-down meeting with (district officials) to get some answers to our questions.”

The Post-Record was unable to contact Collier in time for this newspaper’s print deadline.

Doug Hood, the interim superintendent of the Camas School District, was out of town through Thursday, June 30, and not available for comment. The school district’s communications director, Doreen McKercher, said on Tuesday, June 28, that she had not heard of any plans for school board members to meet with the Colliers or other families involved with the girls wrestling program.

McKercher also said Yamashita coached the girls wrestling team for four seasons and is no longer a Camas coach.

A Clark County Superior Court judge released Yamashita on $25,000 bail on May 13. Some of the conditions of Yamashita’s release include: “every other week phone check-ins” with law enforcement; no contact with the victim; the inability to attend youth athletic events, practices and activities; having “no contact — directly or indirectly — with minor children; and the inability to be at “locations where minors are known to congregate, including but not limited to malls, playgrounds, school grounds and public swimming pools.”

Yamashita is scheduled to appear in Clark County Superior Court for a pre-trial readiness hearing on Thursday, July 21.