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Resignation under fire: Pelican Rapids coach accused of sexual misconduct quits district job after school reopens investigation

Shawn Gravalin resigned of all duties with the Pelican Rapids School District Monday, April 15. File Photo

Shawn Gravalin, a middle school basketball coach who came under fire for sexual misconduct allegations in December, resigned from all duties with the Pelican Rapids School District Monday, April 15. The district was in the midst of a reopened investigation into the allegation that Gravalin inappropriately touched a player's butt during practice.

Investigation reopened

After initially finding no evidence and closing a month-long investigation Jan. 17, the district reopened the sexual misconduct investigation a couple weeks later, at the urging of Assistant Otter Tail County Attorney Jake Thomason.

At the time, Pelican Rapids Superintendent Randi Anderson said local law enforcement, who conducted a separate investigation into the matter, "had access to more information regarding the recent allegation ... than did the school district."

Thomason cited having "substantial concerns regarding the alleged behavior of Mr. Gravalin, particularly in light of past accusations" as information that "merits further inquiry by school authorities."

Gravalin was the subject of similar allegations eleven years ago, when he was the head girls basketball coach in Hankinson, N.D. He was accused of mentally abusing and sexually harassing basketball players. He resigned from the position in July 2008, and went on to coach a number of sports in Pelican Rapids.

Gravalin resigned from coaching basketball and softball in Pelican Rapids back in January, but he remained a paraprofessional at the school. He was on paid administrative leave, while the district conducted its second investigation.

Alleged victim's mother speaks out

The Pelican Rapids School Board accepted Gravalin's resignation Monday, April 15, washing its hands of the matter. Superintendent Randi Anderson says the misconduct investigation is now closed. She did not respond to an email from the Tribune sent Tuesday asking if any more complaints were filed against Gravalin after the investigation was reopened.

"I want to put an end to the entire situation," Gravalin wrote in his resignation letter. "The turmoil and stress this has caused my family can never be fully repaired .... It is unfortunate that even if I return to work, this matter will linger and even possibly interfere with my ability to be an effective educator and/or coach. For those reasons and many more, I am choosing to resign."

The mother of the middle school student who filed the complaint against Gravalin says she is tired of him casting himself as the victim. This newspaper is not identifying the mother, as to not identify the alleged juvenile victim.

"He's the one who brought suffering to my daughter, our family and his family," she said, adding that her daughter has gone through turmoil and stress of her own, going through trauma counseling, enduring nightmares, and having trouble trusting adults.

She says her daughter left the Pelican Rapids school for a time during the investigation due to stress but has since returned and is "holding her head up and trying to be a normal, happy seventh grader."