The new lawsuit accuses the NBA prospect of secretly recording a sexual encounter, and it names the school district and a coach for failing to act.
A second former classmate of ex-Federal Way High School basketball star Jalen McDaniels has sued him for allegedly recording and sharing video of her having sex with another teen during their senior year two years ago, contending in a court filing Monday that the NBA prospect sidestepped criminal charges only with help “from his coaches to avoid detection.”
In a 16-page complaint, Tally Thomas alleges that, when she was 17, McDaniels sat in a closet and secretly recorded her having sex with a high school teammate. Thomas also names as defendants the Federal Way School District and its high school basketball coach, Jerome Collins, claiming both negligently failed to act.
The lawsuit contends that after Thomas came forward in February 2016, Collins tried to cover up the incident involving his star forward by downplaying it and urging Thomas not to report it. Meanwhile, the coach allegedly broke the law by ignoring requirements to report McDaniels to law enforcement and state child welfare authorities. Instead of facing serious consequences, McDaniels led the team to the state title.
“The absence of any criminal prosecution is not legitimate rationale for defendants to claim McDaniels acted lawfully,” the suit states. “McDaniels did not act lawfully. Neither did Coach Collins.”
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McDaniels, now 20 and playing college ball for San Diego State University, has declined comment about his legal troubles, saying through a lawyer last week that he’ll address the matter in court. His status as a starting player for the Aztecs remains unchanged.
Collins last week also declined comment, citing an ongoing school district investigation. A spokeswoman for the Federal Way School District said an outside investigation remains ongoing and the coach has been placed on administrative leave during the probe.
Thomas’ lawsuit comes less than a week after her former high school classmate, Gwen Gabert, sued McDaniels, contending he secretly recorded her having sex with him in 2016 and later distributed the images to other students. Both women contend they were ridiculed, humiliated, suffered emotionally and became suicidal after the recordings were distributed.
Last week, King County prosecutors opted against bringing felony voyeurism charges against McDaniels, citing legal insufficiency in the criminal case against him. According to a prosecutor’s “decline memo” released Monday, a police investigation failed to find evidence proving sexual motivation — a key element in proving the voyeurism offense.
“There is no evidence that his decision to record was done for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person,” according to a memo dated Dec. 12 and signed by King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Celia A. Lee. “In the absence of such evidence, the State would be unable to prove a charge of Voyeurism beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Lee’s decline memo, which is meant to provide a legal explanation for the charging decision to Det. Heather Castro, the Federal Way police officer who investigated the case, noted that police might have had a better chance at pursuing the gross misdemeanor charge of “disclosing intimate images” against McDaniels in Federal Way municipal court, but now it’s too late.
“Although the statute of limitations has run, had this case been reported within two years of its commission, charges of Disclosing Intimate Images … may have been appropriately filed in municipal court,” Lee’s memo said.
A spokesman for the Federal Way police department did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.
Joan Mell, an attorney who represents both accusers, said Monday that Gabert reported her allegations to police in April 2016, which ordinarily would provide ample time to make a case.
But Mell blamed reluctant witnesses who refused to cooperate with an investigator and Collins’ alleged inaction for undermining the criminal case against McDaniels.
Gabert’s lawsuit also alleges that San Diego State University police and athletic officials failed to aid the Federal Way detective after she asked in September 2016 that McDaniels’ phone be secured as part of her investigation.