Alexander Fritz, a former member of the USA Climbing team, has been charged with four counts of child rape.
As reported by the Mercer Island Reporter, the 28-year-old Fritz, of Seattle, most recently worked as a coach and route-setter at Vertical World climbing gyms. He is now charged with sexually abusing two girls in Snohomish and King counties from 2016 to 2018. Both girls were 15.
“[Fritz] would create a seemingly professional coach/athlete relationship with young female athletes and simultaneously create a bond with their parents, growing close enough to some to have them describe him as a member of their family,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Jarrett Goodkin wrote in an 11-page affidavit. “Underneath the professional coach/athlete relationship were secret private communications, which then became an ‘inappropriate relationship.’”
Earlier this month, an investigator with the U.S. Center for SafeSport contacted Redmond detective Marshall Tolbert about several allegations that Fritz had “relationships” with child athletes.
SafeSport launched an investigation into Fritz in 2019. The case was forwarded to the FBI due to reports the climbing coach had “crossed state lines and international borders for purposes of sex with minors.” The government entities turned the entire case over to the Redmond Police Department to continue the investigation, according to the Reporter.
Fritz was arrested Feb. 2 and jailed in Snohomish County on three counts of child rape involving the same girl. A fourth count, involving a second girl, was later added.
The first young woman told detectives she met Fritz in 2015 at a climbing competition in Canada. She was 15 at the time. Fritz was 22.
The young woman reported Fritz met her parents and told them they were dating and “in love,” and her parents allowed him to move into their home and live in the basement. The mother saw a post on social media that Fritz was spending time with another family who had a 15-year-old girl.
“Detective Tolbert also noted a common thread of Fritz having a preference 15-year-old females,” according to the charges.
Last week, Tolbert interviewed another young woman who said she was 7 years old when she first met Fritz.
He became her coach and set up one-on-one weekly training with her when she was about 13, the charges say. Fritz went on a family trip with her. The young woman reportedly said she was 15 when Fritz first had sexual contact with her.
Fritz was involved with the local and national climbing community for more than 20 years. The defendant was a coach for the U.S. Olympic Climbing Team in 2018 and 2019, and he often hosted “skills clinics” in the United States and Canada, the charges say.
Fritz was described as a “multi-time U.S. National Team (member) for competitive climbing in bouldering, sport, and speed,” in a biography once posted on Vertical World’s website, according to internet archives cited by the Reporter. He was an “apprentice Coach for U.S. National Team for the World Youth Championships in 2013.”
In a statement posted on the USA Climbing website, the organization said it supported the investigation of Fritz.
“USA Climbing is deeply disturbed by the allegations,” wrote Marc Norman, CEO of USA Climbing. “As an organization that prioritizes the safety and protection of our members, we want to thank the U.S. Center for SafeSport and local authorities for their collaboration in promoting that goal.”
The statement says Fritz was suspended from USA Climbing on Dec. 16, 2020.