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Ex-Camas High School girls wrestling coach sentenced to 20 months in prison for molesting girl, 16

Victim, a member of wrestling team, calls Mark Yamashita a ‘groomer’

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 9, 2024, 6:06pm
3 Photos
Former Camas High School girls head wrestling coach Mark Yamashita appears Tuesday at the Clark County Courthouse for sentencing in his child molestation case. Yamashita was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Former Camas High School girls head wrestling coach Mark Yamashita appears Tuesday at the Clark County Courthouse for sentencing in his child molestation case. Yamashita was sentenced to 20 months in prison. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A judge sentenced a former Camas High School girls wrestling coach Tuesday to 20 months in prison for molesting a 16-year-old girl in 2022.

Mark Yamashita, 50, of Vancouver pleaded guilty in February in Clark County Superior Court to two counts of third-degree child molestation.

Appearing via Zoom, the victim, who was a member of the wrestling team, described Yamashita as a “groomer.” He threatened her with consequences if she did not submit to his “cruel and unusual punishments,” she said, which were often sexual demands.

“I didn’t speak up because I thought it was normal and that I deserved it,” she said.

Holding back tears, the victim’s father asked the judge to hand down the maximum sentence.

“He was placed in a position of trust, and he violated that trust,” he said. “He took advantage of a little girl just trying to live.”

Defense attorney Steve Thayer argued Yamashita should serve 15 months because he is a first-time offender, and it was an isolated incident. Thayer also said a psychosexual evaluation report concluded Yamashita’s “probability of re-offense remains extremely close to zero.”

Judge Robert Lewis handed down the maximum sentence in the 15- to 20-month standard sentencing range because of “the severe impact to the victim and her family,” as well as an “egregious breach of trust.”

According to court records, Yamashita had sexual contact multiple times with the victim. Many of those instances occurred while the coach and girl were traveling to club wrestling tournaments on trips not affiliated with Camas High School.

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

Police were contacted after the girl told another wrestler she had been raped May 8, 2022, at a hotel in Woodinville. After the assault, the girl ran to the hotel lobby and slept there for the night, court records say.

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, court records state.

Yamashita was terminated from his position with the district following his arrest in May 2022.

Attorneys indicated at sentencing there were no other victims.

Addressing the courtroom Tuesday, Yamashita apologized to the victim.

“We had some good times,” he said. “I wish in her future that she goes on to college, just like we always hoped. I’m really sorry to the family and my family for all the pain and inconvenience I’ve caused.”

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