Sexual harassment at the Bellevue Badminton club: It needs to stop.
1/22/2019 — Update: Jinadasa‘s employment at BBC was terminated on 12/06/2018 and SafeSport is still investigating.
2/16/2019 — Please read this article by the Seattle Times.
This has been on my mind for a long time.
Badminton friends, please read — Many of you know Nicholas (Nick) Jinadasa as a coach and manager at the Bellevue Badminton Club (BBC). I know him as someone who takes advantage of his position as a coach to sexually harass young girls who train at BBC. For years, we girls (now adults) didn’t know what to do and were afraid of speaking out. But this problem has been swept under the rug for too long. Here’s what you need to know.
It started small. While I was a student at BBC, Nick would make inappropriate comments to girls like “whoa those are really tiny shorts you’re wearing,” or “I don’t like Indian girls’ calves. They’re too thin. I like Asian girls’ calves because they’re more muscular, like yours”. Although he mainly targeted children 15–16 years old, he would often say these things in front of kids as young as 13. He would also do seemingly harmless things like giving prolonged hugs, putting his hands on waists, or touching legs and hips unexpectedly. It was uncomfortable, but not bad enough for us kids to report.
But eventually, he started to push the limits of what was appropriate. Girls caught him staring at their bodies when they wore swimsuits, dresses, or shorts. One girl even told me that on an occasion where she wore a dress with cut-outs, Nick said “Oh, nice dress”, put his finger into one of the openings in her dress, and then tugged the fabric and leaned in as if he was trying to see down it. He also started texting my 15 year old teammate to go over, alone, to his apartment at night. He would text her as late as 11pm, telling her to call him or drop by “because my girlfriend is gonna be gone all night”. He also sent her other creepy messages like “I miss your feisty butt :P”.
I eventually found out that he had brought a 16 year old girl from BBC over to his apartment — alone. He had told her that his girlfriend was out of town and then drove her to his place. While giving her a tour, he brought her to his bedroom, pointed at the bed, and told her “this is where the magic happens”. He then invited her to sit with him on his couch and put his arm around her. Then they just sat there for a while because the girl had no idea what to do and was very confused and shocked at that point. This made me question — what are his motives and what else has he done?
I decided to take action when I found out he was inviting girls to “massages” in an office upstairs, where he would sometimes massage up a leg higher than necessary, or even ask the girls to take off their clothing and go under a sheet. After hearing about this happening to 3 of the girls I talked with, I knew I couldn’t keep silent. In December of 2017, I filed an official report to US SafeSport because I felt that it was my responsibility. However, it’s been one year now without any results, and much of the badminton community is still in the dark about this. That’s why I am sharing this now. A coach should be a trustworthy professional who is a good role model for young athletes. Nick is a man in his thirties using the image of a professional badminton coach to gain the trust of teenage girls so he can get them alone; even asking them to remove their clothing for “massages”. What makes this worse is that the girls talk about these “massages” as a trial to endure if they wanted to move up to a higher class. This is how Nick gets away — the kids don’t speak up because he has control over their futures as athletes.
How have the girls been affected?
“Nick has repeatedly violated appropriate boundaries for a coach to student or for a senior colleague. He seems to think it’s ok to touch me, and to talk either suggestively or explicitly about sexual subjects with people both in his charge and often close to half his age. I have received this behavior myself, and witnessed it towards numerous other young female co-workers…Nick’s treatment of me and others eroded my trust and self-esteem and has significantly affected my personal relationships and mental health.” -Girl A
“It truly saddens me to think of how many children, particularly girls, have been affected by Nick. Through all the classes he coaches, he could easily detriment the mental health of a young girl through his body-shaming comments and inappropriate advances, particularly when coming from an authority figure that should be respected and admired.” -Girl B
“Under coach Nick, I lost the confidence that I had spent years building. His sexism was evident in the way that he degraded women…He made me loathe going to training as I often felt so inferior that I was constantly on the brink of tears.” -Girl C
Nick’s mistreatment of girls is harmful for whole badminton community. Girls are being hurt by the person they are supposed to be learning from. Boys see and learn from his actions. Parents put their trust and thousands of dollars into their children’s badminton training, hoping for a healthy learning experience, and this is what they get? We cannot allow this to continue. These girls are our teammates, friends, sisters, daughters and they deserve better. Our badminton community deserves better.
As long as Nick continues to coach young, vulnerable students, it’s important that both parents and students are aware of his behavior. As a child, you learn about stranger danger pretty well, but it’s hard to apply these boundaries and caution to your coach. Students — please don’t put yourself in a vulnerable situation with him. Parents — please watch out for your children. Make sure they know what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
Here is a list of all complaints submitted by 10+BBC students 2011–2017:
Please share this information and feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or an experience you would like to add to the list.
Here are some links to resources I’ve found helpful:
USA Badminton’s SafeSport Handbook for clubs — view official guidelines for safety at badminton clubs.
USA Badminton’s SafeSport Page — find out when and how to report misconduct.
“Sexual harassment and abuse are forms of sex discrimination. They include unwanted, groomed or forced involvement in sexual behavior, from use of offensive stereotypes based on your gender to sexual jokes, threats, intimidation, approaches or actions of a sexual nature” — The International Olympic Committee