Stanford withdraws scholarship for four-star Eastside Catholic football recruit Ayden Hector after seeking police records

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Eastside Catholic’s Ayden Hector. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Four-star football recruit Ayden Hector of Bellevue has had his scholarship rescinded by Stanford University after the school sought details about his involvement in a months-long police investigation two years ago.

The investigation, involving a then-16-year-old girl and members of the reigning Class 3A state champion Eastside Catholic football team, ended with the King County prosecutor deciding to not file charges. Hector was a star cornerback on the team.

Stanford’s request for the information was made part of a public records lawsuit in which The Seattle Times is involved. “Under university policy, Stanford may rescind the admission of an applicant based upon a review of additional information,” assistant athletic director Brian Risso said in a statement Wednesday. “The university has taken that step with regard to an incoming undergraduate for fall 2020 who was scheduled to be a football student-athlete.”

Risso declined further comment on specifics.

Lawyers representing Hector and three other Eastside Catholic players have said in filings he only witnessed events investigated by police and was not a suspect.

In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Hector said, “Two years ago, I was one of several witnesses who cooperated with the authorities in an 8-month-long investigation which resulted in no charges being filed. It is unfortunate that complete strangers … have passed off false speculations, rumors and hearsay about me related to this investigation.”

He wrote that Stanford’s decision “was not in any way based on me being considered accused or a suspect of sexual misconduct, which I never was.” Hector’s parents did not immediately respond to phone messages left Wednesday.

Known for his solid coverage and physical run support, Hector had three interceptions and 29 solo tackles in 11 games last season. He earned trips to the All-American Bowl in San Antonio — where he returned a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown — and the Polynesian Bowl in Honolulu in January.

In 2018, the Clyde Hill Police Department sent prosecutors their files for potential criminal charges against one adult and three minors, according to a letter from a lawyer representing the players’ families in a separate legal case last year. In that investigation, detectives executed multiple search warrants seeking a video of the alleged incident but were unable to find one, according to the letter.

The Seattle Times filed a public disclosure request in January for police and prosecution records of the investigation, and sued the county prosecutor’s office Feb. 18 alleging it was taking excessive time to produce the files. Families of four of the athletes involved in the investigation, including Hector’s, intervened to block disclosure. That lawsuit is ongoing.

On March 10, Stanford’s legal counsel filed its own records request to King County prosecutors.

Stanford’s records request placed the school in the position of potentially being added to the ongoing legal battle and in effect sued by one of its own football players. But that was avoided last week when it dropped its request and pulled the scholarship offer.

Last spring, the King County Prosecutor’s office pledged in writing to notify lawyers representing families of several of the football players in advance of releasing case records to the media in order to provide “an opportunity to enjoin our office from releasing the records.’’ The case file had previously been requested and obtained by KING-5 a year and four months ago. It aired a story on Wednesday.

In February, after The Times asked for the same file, records supervisor Megan Moore officially notified players’ families of the new request.

The county has argued in court filings the records package it is prepared to release to The Times will be more extensive than what King 5 received. Last week, the TV station filed a new records request seeking all additional documents to be released to The Times.

The alleged victim, in a sworn statement, said she supported disclosure of the records to the The Times because she wanted “accountability for the decision of the prosecutor’s office” to not file charges.

Lawyers representing families of four of the players — including Hector’s — obtained a temporary restraining order Feb. 26 blocking release of hundreds of pages of police reports and emails, arguing they had no public merit and would subject the players to undue rumor, speculation and harm to their reputations.

Statements submitted to the court claimed the investigated players were ridiculed and bullied by classmates, taunted by crowds at football games and subjected to anonymous email campaigns to quash scholarship opportunities at various NCAA universities.

The Times countered in court filings that it needed the records to scrutinize the actions of police and prosecutors and the decision not to file criminal charges. King County Superior Court Judge Ken Schubert lifted the injunction last month, ruling “the public has a legitimate interest in scrutinizing how agencies handled the investigation at issue …”

But the player’s lawyers have appealed in a case, which is now potentially headed to the Washington State Supreme Court.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com; . Geoff Baker covers hockey and is a sports enterprise and investigative reporter for The Seattle Times.