Ex-Redmond climbing coach charged with raping 15-year-old girl

A former Redmond rock climbing coach has been charged in Snohomish County District Court with three counts of third-degree rape of a child, accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in 2016 in Mukilteo, Bothell and Redmond.

Alexander Fritz, 28, is a former member of the United States Climbing Team and worked as a coach at Vertical World Climbing in Redmond, according to the charging documents. Fritz, whose last known address is in North Seattle, was arrested Feb. 2 and remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bond, according to jail and court records.

Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Fritz on Monday, and on Tuesday a judge signed a sexual assault protective order that bars Fritz from having any contact with the alleged victim, who is now 21, or her family. according to court records. If he posted bail, Fritz was ordered to surrender his passport and have no contact with climbing facilities that serve underage athletes, records show.

Fritz’s defense attorney did not immediately respond to an email from Thursday seeking comment on his case.

In A declaration posted on its website and Facebook page on February 5, USA Climbing said it was cooperating with an investigation by the American Center for SafeSporta congressionally mandated investigative body aimed at preventing the sexual and physical abuse of young athletes involved in regulated sports.

“USA Climbing is deeply troubled by the allegations. As an organization that prioritizes the safety and protection of our members, we would like to thank the US Center for SafeSport and local authorities for their collaboration in promoting this goal,” said Marc Norman, CEO of USA Climbing.

SafeSport began investigating Fritz in June 2019 and USA Climbing suspended Fritz in December, according to a thread. on the association’s Facebook page.

A SafeSport investigator contacted Redmond police in February 2021 and said she was investigating allegations of sexual misconduct after several athletes came forward and accused Fritz of having affairs with underage athletes, according to the charging documents. Athletes, former coaches, parents and other members of the climbing community provided statements to the SafeSport investigator, who provided transcripts of their statements to a Redmond police detective.

These statements revealed “a pattern of behavior” in which Fritz created a seemingly professional coach-athlete relationship with a young female athlete and simultaneously “bonded” with the girl’s parents before the relationship turned into communications. secrets and lead to an “inappropriate relationship”. the detective wrote in the charges.

“I think it’s likely that there will be more athletes who have been victimized by Fritz or more athletes who have realized Fritz’s grooming behaviors once the SafeSport investigation begins,” wrote the detective.

The legal age of consent in Washington is 16. However, it is 18 if a sexual relationship is with someone, including a coach or teacher, who is in a position of authority over a young person.

The charges against Fritz say he first met his alleged victim in 2015 at the Edge Fall Classic climbing competition in Canada and then began communicating with her regularly on social media and by phone. In March 2016, he began visiting the girl at her home in Vancouver, British Columbia, and raped her, while telling the girl’s parents that they were dating and in love, according to the charges. He apparently told the girl that they could go public with their relationship once she turned 16 or 18.

In the spring of 2016, she began visiting Fritz in the United States and told investigators that he raped her at a Mukilteo hotel and apartments in Bothell and Redmond, according to the charges. She described being “frozen” and “numb” and said Fritz gave her alcohol and pinned her arms during sex, according to the criminal complaint.

She also told the investigator that Fritz manipulated his parents, who helped him buy a car and let him pay reduced rent in a Redmond apartment they bought, according to the charges. He also insisted on keeping their relationship a secret ‘because it would ruin his career’ and asked the 15-year-old to ‘read a lot of legal stuff so she knows how not to incriminate him’, according to the charges. She stopped seeing Fritz in October 2018.

Virginia F. Goins