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Former Team USA Climbing Coach Arrested on Child Rape Charges

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Alexander Fritz, 28, of Seattle, Wash., faces three felony charges of third-degree child rape in Everett District Court. Redmond police arrested the former Team USA Climbing coach on Wednesday, February 2.

The charges against Alexander Fritz stem from three incidents in 2016 in which he allegedly had sex with an underage female athlete. Court documents show that the girl was 15 at the time.

In interviews with Redmond Police Detective Marshall Tolbert, the young woman, who has not been named, said the incidents and other sexual acts Fritz performed with her were nonconsensual.

Fritz is being held at the Snohomish County Jail on probable cause while Redmond police continue their investigation.

U.S. Center for SafeSport Starts Investigation

Fritz last coached for Team USA in December 2020. On December 16, the organization suspended Fritz based on guidance from the U.S. Center for SafeSport. SafeSport is a federal investigative body “dedicated solely to ending sexual, physical, and emotional abuse on behalf of athletes everywhere,” according to its mission statement.

A SafeSport investigator approached Redmond police on February 2, 2021, with allegations of “several athletes coming forward saying Fritz had ‘relationships’ with underage athletes.”

The allegations indicated that Fritz would cross state lines and country borders for the purposes of having sex with minors, so the investigation was forwarded to the FBI.

Redmond police got the investigation back, however, on July 14, 2021, after the FBI declined to take the lead.

Court Records Detail Felony Charges

Tolbert’s written report draws on SafeSport’s investigation, which revolved around interviews with athletes, coaches, parents, and others in Fritz’s climbing community. Tolbert identified a pattern in which Fritz established “strong professional bonds” with young athletes that “turn into secret private communications leading to an inappropriate ‘relationship.'”

According to court documents, the girl said she met Fritz at a climbing competition in 2015. After that, she said in a police interview, he started contacting her via social media.

The report included incidents of Fritz buying the girl alcohol and discussing the legal age of consent.

Tolbert later cross-referenced dates and locations in an interview with the young woman’s mother, which led him to his conclusions.

Case Status and USA Climbing Statement

On Feb. 3, Everett District Court Judge Anthony Howard set Fritz’s bail at $500,000. The court scheduled another hearing for today at 1:05 p.m. PST.

USA Climbing responded to the charges against Fritz in a statement on February 5.

“USA Climbing is deeply disturbed by the allegations. As an organization that prioritizes the safety and protection of our members, we want to thank the U.S. Center for SafeSport and local authorities for their collaboration in promoting that goal,” said Marc Norman, USA Climbing CEO.

Bruce Mitchell, president of the group’s board of directors, added, “[w]e are absolutely committed to creating a safe environment for the entirety of our community and call upon our athletes, parents, coaches, gyms, and all members to remain vigilant and report any suspected abuse.”

If you witness sexual abuse in your athletic community, you can contact SafeSport’s reporting line at 833-5US-SAFE (587-7233). 

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