Banks, Banks School District, Crime

Banks School District, employees sued for $2.5 million

The Banks Post does not publish the names of minors involved in sex abuse lawsuits, nor information that could identify a minor involved in such a story. As such, the names of the family involved in the lawsuit have been withheld.

BANKS – The Banks School District and four current or former employees of the Banks School District — including now-principal Jacob Pence — are being sued for $2,500,000 after a former assistant softball coach was arrested on several sex abuse charges on December 2, 2019.

Madison Soper, 22, a Banks High School assistant softball coach for the 2016-2017 academic year, was arrested by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, December 2, 2019 and booked into the Washington County jail.

She faces two charges of second-degree sexual abuse, two charges of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, a charge of luring a minor and first degree online sexual corruption of a minor, as well as three counts of third degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. 

Her original court date has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The lawsuit, filed April 8 in the Washington County circuit court by the father of the softball player allegedly abused by Soper, says that the Banks School District, then district athletic director (now Banks High School principal) Jacob Pence, at the time BHS softball Coach James Wise, Michelle Soper, a secretary for the district and Madison Soper’s mother, and Madison Soper are responsible for negligence and the sex abuse that allegedly occurred. 

In an email to the Banks Post, district superintendent Jeff Leo said that the Banks School District does not comment on pending litigation. 

The lawsuit claims that complaints against the younger Soper were brought to then-athletic director Jacob Pence, with reports that Soper was grooming the plaintiff. 

According to the lawsuit, Pence confronted Soper about the allegations, who denied them. No warnings or disciplinary actions were taken after that, according to the lawsuit. 

After the spring season ended, Soper kissed the plaintiff, who was under 18 for all of the noted acts, the lawsuit says, and then engaged in another sex act. After that, at least 20 sexually explicit videos were shared between the two via Snapchat — a video sharing app that deletes videos and images after they are received — between May 2017 and August 2019, according to court records. 

The lawsuit says that the plaintiff told her parents about what had occurred in November 2019. 

According to the suit, the plaintiff suffered panic attacks for six months during the time when the contact was occurring, and suffered from depression in the same time period. 

According to the lawsuit, Jacob Pence, James Wise, and Michelle Soper did not adhere to mandatory reporting requirements required of educators, and did not properly investigate the complaints against the younger Soper, leaving them liable for the abuse against the plaintiff, and alleges the same for the district. 

Soper pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against her stemming from her December 2, 2019 arrest.  

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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