14 Oct Ex-Valley Christian coach gets 6-year sentence for sex abuse
SAN JOSE — A prominent South Bay coach was sentenced Thursday to more than six years in prison for having lengthy sexual relationships with two underage female athletes at Valley Christian High School in the 2000s, bringing closure to what a judge called a “tragedy” that took nearly two decades to fully come to light.
Greg Marshall, 59, was given a six year, eight month prison term by Judge Kenneth Shapero, about three years shorter than the sentence recommended by prosecutors.
Marshall was taken into custody following the two-hour hearing in a San Jose courtroom, which was marked by passionate statements led by the two women whose stories fueled the 26 criminal charges to which Marshall pleaded no contest this past summer.
Allison Brown, whose account comprised 20 of those charges, described her experience of being groomed then sexually exploited as “psychological enslavement” by a mentor who she entrusted with her athletic future as a basketball player.
“Greg Marshall is a quintessential predator of diabolical proportions,” Brown said in the courtroom that was literally split down the middle between her family and supporters and those of Marshall. “Even as I am getting older and even after years of therapy, I am still unable to forgive myself and stop blaming myself.”
Tracey Walker, whose abuse accusations against Marshall predated Brown’s but were not initially prosecuted, recalled being a close family friend of Marshall’s before he leveraged her idolization of him.
“You didn’t have to take my innocence away,” Walker said. “You have single-handedly left me with emotional scars I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.”
Both Brown and Walker were referred to only by first name in court Thursday, but they have both publicly identified themselves to bring wider attention to Marshall’s acts and to empower other abuse survivors to tell their stories. They also have both settled lawsuits alleging that Valley Christian failed to protect them, which besides undisclosed monetary damages, yielded pledges to improve school training and procedures for reporting sexual misconduct.
Marshall was arrested in January 2019 after Brown contacted San Jose police to report that her basketball coach had a sexual relationship with her starting in 2004 when she was 17. That led to another review of Walker’s account from 2006, and Marshall was additionally charged on her allegations.
In his remarks in court, Marshall claimed accountability, but also pushed back against characterizations of him as a predator. At one point, he mentioned that he disclosed the sexual relationships he had with his athletes to his wife — who was also a coach at Valley Christian — but also said that he was not aware, until his arrest, of the emotional toll that they had on Brown and Walker.
Marshall said the criminal charges have been a “nightmare for me and my family,” and that his remorse has manifested in his failing health, detailing significant weight gain, depression, and a cancer diagnosis. Still, he pleaded with Judge Shapero to consider his contributions from his coaching and training career — which spans multiple high schools as well as the San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara University women’s soccer team — as well as his family life and faith.
“Admittedly, I screwed up, I big time screwed up,” Marshall said. “Please find God in me, please invest in my future.”
Shapero appeared receptive but said he could not look past how Marshall was sexually involved with Walker then Brown in consecutive periods of time between 2002 and 2005.
“To say this case was a tragedy would be a gruesome understatement,” Shapero said.
Soon after, he denied a defense request for Marshall to surrender at a later date, and instead ordered that he be immediately remanded to jail.
Marshall’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Greg Goldman, said after the sentencing that Marshall was already paying penance in the form of his ruined reputation and career, and that no prison sentence could compound that.
“The prison sentence in a way will be the easy part. He’ll never recover from this emotionally,” Goldman said. “I do believe the judge was impressed by the other aspects of his life, which is why he did not go with the recommended sentence.”
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Meeker and Shapero both lauded Brown and Walker for coming forward.
“Today marks the end of a long awaited journey for justice for two amazing young women … (and) 15 years of trauma and emotional turmoil they have quietly suffered as victims as a result of the defendant’s criminal and disgusting behavior,” Meeker said after the court hearing. “I hope this case is a lesson to those who might consider to betray trust of others in the same way.”
Brown said that the sentencing gives her “more belief in the justice system, and I hope this is a start of a new journey for myself, and for Tracey.”
“I hope that the story helps others become aware, whether they have been a victim, whether it’s parents, whether it’s schools and institutions where policies need to be changed,” she said, “and gives hope to those who need it the most.”
Walker echoed the sentiment.
“I feel like the book has closed and a new chapter is starting,” she said. “I want to tell other girls and other young people, still tell your story, and that you’re never alone. Keep talking. It shouldn’t define you, and you should be able to redefine yourself.”
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