Longtime Washington volleyball official and coach charged with attempted child rape in sex sting

Cameron Smith

A pillar of the youth volleyball community in Seattle has been arrested on disturbing charges of second-degree attempted rape of a child.

As first reported by the Seattle Times, KING-TV, KIRO-TV and other Seattle sources, 58-year-old Ronald Swafford was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes in connection with an incident in which Swafford reportedly tried to solicit sex over the internet from a user he believed was a 13-year-old girl. Instead, the profile Swafford came in contact with was manned by a detective with the Seattle Police Department, which arrested the longtime coach and official shortly thereafter when Swafford went to meet with the person he thought was the teenage girl.

The charges being levied against the longtime coach and official have left those in the Washington youth volleyball community utterly stunned, with parents of those he had coached in the past trying to come to grips with how such a trusted adult advisor could have attempted to do something so heinous.

"I'd like to think that I'd get some sort of sense from someone that something was amiss," Steve Nantz, whose daughter was coached by Swafford, told the Times. "But this guy exuded trust. He was avuncular; he was a favorite uncle; he was a good guy."

Swafford used the sense of trust Nantz alluded to in order to put himself in positions of authority in the Washington volleyball community. According to the Times, the 58-year-old is the president of the Snohomish County Board of Volleyball Officials. He also served as the coach of the Northshore Juniors, a popular club team which competes across the Puget Sound region, until he was fired earlier this month. The director of the Northshore Juniors told the Times that she fired Swafford as soon as she learned of his arrest earlier in February.

There's no indication of when the case against Swafford will move forward, or whether he will admit to the charges against him. For the time being, his initial reaction -- he reportedly rolled police he'd "made a big mistake," doesn't speak well for his future defense.

In the meantime, parents and athletes who have become accustomed to seeing Swafford around the Washington volleyball scene will have to adjust for his sudden absence, a strange turn of events for a man who could be counted among the state's most trusted purveyors of volleyball wisdom and planning.

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