The arrest of a local volleyball referee and coach on charges of attempted child rape has stunned the community.

Share story

A longtime coach, referee and official has been charged with attempting to rape a 13-year-old girl, leaving the youth-volleyball community reeling.

Ronald Swafford, 58, of Mill Creek, was arrested Feb. 3 and charged in King County Superior Court with second-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Swafford is being held at King County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.

“Stunned is an understatement. The community is shocked,” said Steve Nantz, a Mukilteo man whose daughter was coached by Swafford for three years.

“I’d like to think that I’d get some sort of sense from someone that something was amiss,” Nantz said. “But this guy exuded trust. He was avuncular; he was a favorite uncle; he was a good guy.”

Swafford was arrested after he allegedly solicited sex over the Internet from a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl, according to charging documents. It turns out he was talking to a detective with the Seattle Police Department, the charges say.

Swafford is the president of the Snohomish County Board of Volleyball Officials and coached the Northshore Juniors, a club team that competes in the Puget Sound area, according to the club’s director, Robyn Peckol Filimaua. She said she fired Swafford after learning of the arrest earlier this month.

The board helps coordinate referees for high-school games in Snohomish County. Amy Andrews, the board’s vice president and now its acting president, said she also was shocked by the news.

“This situation is not easy to stomach,” she said.

Swafford is a registered member of the Washington Officials Association, according to Todd Stordahl, the commissioner. The association provides referees for regular and postseason high-school sporting events in the state of Washington.

On Jan. 31, a Seattle detective posted a false advertisement online, according to the detective’s report. Swafford quickly responded, attaching a photo of himself with some of his volleyball players from Northshore Juniors and carrying on a conversation, the report said.

The detective posed as someone with access to a 13-year-old girl who enjoyed having sex with adults, he wrote in the report.

The detective alleges that Swafford ultimately began contacting a person he thought was the 13-year-old girl and arranged to meet up with her Feb. 3.

In the report, the detective said he was intentionally vague about the nature of the advertisement because he didn’t want to compromise similar stings in the future.

Swafford allegedly used graphic detail to describe his intentions.

Swafford was arrested when he arrived at a predetermined meeting place, the detective wrote. According to the report, he had a new, unopened sex toy, a box of condoms and a bottle of lubrication with him.

He initially told police he’d made a big mistake, and then invoked his right to an attorney, according to the report.

Swafford is to be arraigned Feb. 22.

Lark Turner: 206-464-2761 or lturner@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @larkreports.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.