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MHS track coach arrested on sex abuse charges involving student athlete

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Melissa BowermanMadras High School's head track and field coach, Melissa Marie Bowerman, 43, was arrested Monday on allegations of sexual abuse of a 17-year-old boy on the track team.

Following an investigation, Oregon State Police arrested Bowerman early July 21, at her home in Fossil, on charges of second-degree sexual abuse, luring a minor, and second-degree online sexual corruption of a child — all Class C felonies, and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor — a Class A misdemeanor.

Bowerman was lodged in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility, with security set at $17,500. She was scheduled to be arraigned in the Jefferson County Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Hired by the school district in 2013, Bowerman was the second MHS coach to be arrested for an inappropriate relationship during the 2013-14 school year. Michael Ray Osborne, 45, the former girls basketball coach, was arrested Nov. 20, 2013, and remains in the county jail on charges that he sexually abused a female student, who was 16 years old when the unlawful relationship started.

The investigation into Bowerman's relationship with a member of the track team was initiated when OSP received a tip that she "was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a juvenile male," state police reported in a press release.

Working with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, OSP identified the youth, and uncovered evidence that led to Bowerman's arrest for conduct that has occurred since May.

State police are concerned that there could have been other victims, and have asked anyone with information on the case to call the OSP Northern Command Center dispatch at 1-800-452-7888.

Bowerman and her husband, Jon Bowerman, the son of the late Bill Bowerman, the legendary track coach and co-founder of Nike, began volunteering with the Madras High School track program in 2013, and were hired as coaches for 2014 on a one-year contract.

The new high school athletic director, Evan Brown, said Monday that he had not met Bowerman, nor started work in the position, which was held by Rory Oster until June.

"I’m sure the district will have a process in place, and I’ll follow the process," he said, indicating that there will be time to hire a coach since track is a spring sport.

School District 509-J Superintendent Rick Molitor issued a statement to the community, noting, "While we are currently awaiting more information, we wanted to share this unfortunate news immediately because we believe that transparency is an important part of the trusted relationship we’ve built with our families and community members — especially during difficult times such as this. Melissa Bowerman is currently not an employee of the district as her coaching contract ended at the conclusion of the 2013-14 track season."

"We are devastated any time we learn that the safety or well-being of a student may have been compromised," he continued. "We recognize the impact these situations have on our students, staff, families and community members. There are no words to describe our frustration as we review the care and thoroughness involved in our hiring and screening processes."

"Melissa Bowerman had worked with our district as both a volunteer in the spring of 2013 and contractual coach in the spring of 2014," he wrote. "Until yesterday, we had not been aware of any indications of criminal activity during her time with us."

Prior to volunteering at Madras High School in 2013, the Bowermans had been volunteer coaches in Condon. Melissa Bowerman was dismissed from the volunteer position in May 2012, after she escorted a 17-year-old male track team member to the prom.

Osborne was originally jailed on 15 counts of second-degree sexual abuse, but posted bail of $3,750. He violated the terms of his release by contacting the victim, and was returned to jail, with security increased from $37,500 to $250,000.

His next status hearing is July 28.