La Costa Canyon High School / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

It’s not every day a U.S. congresswoman comes forward to say she was sexually abused by a high school coach.

But surprising as Rep. Martha McSally’s story is, it is also achingly familiar.

Same goes with this recent Buzzfeed investigation into another high school coach who had a sexual relationship with one of the girls he coached.

Those two stories took places in different states and happened years apart. Yet they share incredible similarities with an investigation by Ashly McGlone we published this week, this one of a Carlsbad teacher who had a months-long sexual relationship with an underage student.

In all three, the women say they weren’t physically forced to have sex but that the men preyed on their vulnerabilities. All three say they tried to end the affairs and were met with manipulation and threats. In two of the stories, they were witnessed together at public parks. In two of the stories, the women struggled with deep depression and eating disorders through college. All three sought justice years after the relationships ended. All three men continued to work in their teaching or coaching careers for years. And in all three stories, there are hints that these three women weren’t the only ones they might have been involved with.

From the story on McSally:

“Two decades older than her, the new coach pressured Ms. McSally into having sex with him, she said in the interview. As she grew increasingly uncomfortable with the situation, he used a variety of psychological tactics to keep her silent, according to Ms. McSally.”

From McGlone’s story on the La Costa Canyon High student:

She occasionally raised concerns that he was a predator manipulating her. But she said he would reassure her that she was special and different.

“In bed with him, he’d say, ‘I hope in five years you don’t tell me I’m disgusting or realize how I’m a monster. I know you’re not going to tell anyone now, but don’t tell anyone in the future,’ and I had to promise that,” she said.

It seems very clear that men like these operate out of a roughly similar predator playbook – and they often use it to target multiple girls.

We’re in the midst of several legal battles to obtain records from school districts across San Diego County that would shed light on more stories within schools. We plan to fight vigorously for the public’s right to understand what’s happening in classrooms and how instances like these are being handled. Stay tuned.

What VOSD Learned This Week

San Diego wants local homes and businesses to be powered by clean sources that don’t contribute to climate change. To get there, it can either form its own utility, or SDG&E – the current power provider – could switch to greener sources. Ry Rivard lays out how both of those paths might work.

The head of the California Public Utilities Commission warned this week that he believes the proliferation of cities forming their own utilities is a dangerous trend.

Meanwhile, SDG&E’s attempt to build a new gas pipeline through the county got dealt a serious blow this week.

(Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president for government affairs, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

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No one seems to hear the name “Lori Saldaña” and think “meh.” As Lisa Halverstadt points out in this piece examining her record, she has fierce supporters, intense detractors – and few in between. Some within Saldaña’s own party say her combativeness has turned off people who’d be inclined to support her.

The Politics Report delves into the piles of money being poured into the supes race by labor groups.

And another District 4 supervisor candidate, Omar Passons, appears on this week’s VOSD podcast, where he talked about his approach to housing, homelessness, programs for youth and more.

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The border was in the national spotlight once again this week as a caravan of migrants from Central America arrived in Tijuana, hoping to seek asylum in the United States. Maya Srikrishnan spoke with many of them, and in this week’s Border Report, she explains why they have a lower chance of receiving asylum than the average applicant.

We also got some stellar video and photos of the asylum-seekers as they took shelter in Tijuana.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Erik T. Bohen does not have cooties.” – The eyebrow-raising lede to a New York Times story about a state legislator who’s been exiled by both parties.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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