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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Dec. 6, 2023

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Former Camas High School girls wrestling coach arrested on suspicion of raping 16-year-old

By , Columbian Sports Editor

Mark Yamashita is no longer the Camas High School girls wrestling head coach after he was arrested on suspicion of a felony child sex abuse charge last month.

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed a charge of third-degree rape against Yamashita, 49, on May 11 in Clark County Superior Court, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Yamashita had sexual contact multiple times with the victim, a 16-year-old girl.

Many of those alleged instances occurred while the coach and girl were traveling to club wrestling tournaments on trips not affiliated with Camas High School.

Police were contacted after the girl told another wrestler she had been raped May 8 at a hotel in Woodinville, the affidavit states.

Yamashita made his first court appearance May 13. While prosecutors argued that Yamashita should be detained pending trial, he was released on $25,000 bail.

He was arraigned on the charge May 20 during which time he entered a not-guilty plea. Yamashita is scheduled for a pre-trial readiness hearing July 21, and his trial is set for Aug. 1, court records show.

When interviewed by police, the girl said sexual contact had “been happening every time we go to a (wrestling) meet” and “at basically every meet since mid-February,” according to the affidavit.

The Mat Classic state high school wrestling championships took place Feb. 18-19 in Tacoma.

Camas School District spokesperson Doreen McKercher said Yamashita no longer works with the district in any capacity. State records show the district paid Yamashita a stipend ranging from $1,744 to $7,000 for extracurricular activities each of the past four years.

In a police interview at the Clark County Children’s Justice Center, the girl said the sexual contact with Yamashita began when she was 15, the affidavit states. Those alleged initial incidents occurred at Yamashita’s Vancouver residence.

Police only became aware after the stay at the Hampton Inn in Woodinville. After the alleged assault, the girl ran to the hotel lobby and slept there for the night. Hampton Inn general operations manager Nicole Manning told police one of her employees encountered a young girl sleeping in a restroom near the lobby at 3:33 a.m., according to the affidavit.

The following morning, the girl told a fellow wrestler that she had been raped, according to the affidavit. That wrestler’s mother, who was also on the trip, observed that the girl was crying during that conversation.

Third-degree rape of a child is a Class C felony where the victim is at least 14 years old but not yet 16 or older, is not married to the defendant and the defendant is more than 48 months older than the victim. It is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.

If Yamashita is convicted, the prosecution informed the court it would seek a sentence above the standard sentencing range due to Yamashita being in a position of trust or confidence.

Yamashita is being represented by Vancouver attorney Steve Thayer. Thayer’s office did not return a request for comment Tuesday on his client’s behalf.

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