Sexually abused student files lawsuit against private San Jose high school

Sexually abused student files lawsuit against private San Jose high school
Photo: Wikimedia
By Shaun Borland - Published on January 07, 2021.

The criminal charges pending against former girls' basketball coach, Gregory Marshall, are not enough for a former Valley Christian High School student sexually abused by Marshall. Allison Brown, a former student at Valley Christian, has now filed a lawsuit against the private school for failing to stop Marshall from attending school functions and be on campus. Brown played for Valley Christian's girls' basketball team in the early 2000s when Marshall coached the team.

According to Mercury News, Brown said the highly publicized case of Larry Nassar's serial sexual abuse of female gymnasts on the U.S. Olympics team prompted her to raise the allegations against her former coach. It took her long periods of reflection to realize they had been the victims of abuse. 

"I didn't understand until several years later it was an abusive relationship. I didn't think or understand to tell anybody," Brown said in a Zoom news conference. 

Brown isn't Marshall's only victim from Valley Christian; Tracey Walker joined the press conference announcing the lawsuit to act in solidarity with Brown.  

Walker has already reached a settlement with the school and Marshall under an assumed name; Brown pursues the lawsuit under her name. "This process has given me a voice. I have the ability to use my voice to help other children," Brown said.

Walker decided to reveal she was "Jane Doe" in the 2020 settlement by giving up her anonymity to support Brown. Both victims filed their lawsuits after Marshall was arrested in 2019 after an investigation by the San Jose Police Department's Child Exploitation Detail. 

Brown and Walker say that Marshall's actions — including "excessive" one-on-one time with female students and driving them to and from school — should have been clues to school administrators that he was grooming the students for exploitation, as KTVU reports. Brown also says Marshall used religion as part of the grooming process. 

"When I was 15 years old, my high school coach, Greg Marshall, started the emotional and mental grooming process. Ultimately leading to sexual abuse by Marshall when I was 17 years old," Brown said.

Walker first reported the sexual abuse in 2006 when Marshall was still coaching at Valley Christian. When the school found out about the allegations, they placed Marshall on paid leave and didn't renew his contract for the next year. The school sent a letter to parents informing them of the allegations, but a San Jose police investigation didn't yield sufficient evidence to file charges.

Despite the allegations, Marshall was still allowed on campus and at the school's sporting events. The Mercury News reports that Marshal was still training Valley Christian students in 2009 and 2010 when his wife, Tammie, coached the track team. 

Brown and Taylor believe that Marshall's children's athletic accomplishments also led to the school allowing Marshall on campus, KPIX reports. Marshall claimed he was an independent strength and condition coach to students at the school. Marshall's son went on to play in the NFL for a number of years. According to the lawsuit, "Marshall's children were bringing glory to Valley Christian through their exploits as star athletes," which may explain why he was allowed to continue coaching.

The two young women want Valley Christian to do more to protect current and future students from suffering at the hands of school employees. "Valley Christian High School did nothing to protect me and other students from the predatory behavior of Greg Marshall," Brown said. Since Valley Christian is private, there are fewer regulations the school has to follow when hiring resulting in less stringent monitoring. "Valley Christian failed me and the last thing I want is a child at this school or any other school to endure what I have," Brown said.

The school continues to assert that it did all it could to protect students. "VCS took swift and immediate action when first informed in December 2006 of misconduct allegations involving this former employee. Immediately, VCS notified the San Jose Police Department and our school community," the school told KPIX in a statement. 

Marshall's next court appearance will be March 15. He faces criminal charges for two dozen felony acts of sexual interactions with minors.