Former student files suit against South Bay high school, basketball coach over sexual abuse

The legal troubles for a former South Bay high school coach continue to mount.

A civil suit was filed against Greg Marshall alleging he sexually assaulted a Valley Christian High School girl almost 20 years ago.

Marshall is already awaiting trial for 24-felony charges in a criminal case alleging the same crimes. Tuesday, a former student filed suit, saying the ex-coach groomed her, then repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

"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," said Allison Brown, the plaintiff in the case.

Brown, through her attorneys, accused the former girls basketball coach of luring her into sexual relationships from 2001 to 2006.

Tracy Walker settled her civil suit against Marshall, but stood in solidarity with Brown at a morning virtual press conference.

"I respected him and trusted him. He prayed on my naivete and my vulnerabilities," said Walker.

The revelations led Valley Christian to remove Marshall as a coach in 2007. But the prestigious South Bay school is named as a co-defendant in Brown’s complaint, which cites negligence for not stepping in when grooming first started.

In response, VCS emailed a statement which read in part, "…the employee was placed on leave, and his employment contract was not renewed. These prompt actions directly contradict any claim that VCS ignored or sought to cover up any report of alleged misconduct."

However, Marshall remained a fixture on the VCS campus, serving as a consultant on strength and training. Attorney Robert Allard says Valley Christian was more concerned with protecting its sports image than the safety of students.

"If Valley Christian had its priorities straight, and placed child safety over the notoriety that comes with producing star athletes, neither ms. Walker, nor my client would be here today," Allard said.

Experts say children are vulnerable to the power imbalance in a teacher-student relationship, which can lead to abuse..

"There are concerns, did I cause this? Did I lead this person on in any way? There’s a lot of self-blame. There’s also a lot of self-doubt," said Perla Flores, a sexual assault expert with the non-profit Community Solutions.

Years after the alleged crimes, both young women now call for changes and better training at their alma mater to better protect students.

"We must get uncomfortable to have these conversations among each other. And to educate our children about predatory behavior which begins with grooming," said Brown.

Both women said grooming – using religion as a way to spend time alone, led to sexual assaults in elevators, the swim closet, the weight room, and in classrooms.

Greg Marshall’s attorney in the San Jose Public Defender’s Office declined to allow his client to do an interview with KTVU. His next court hearing is on March 15.