Former USA Climbing team member accused of child rape

Alexander Fritz, 28, was accused of inappropriate “relationships” with child athletes, police wrote.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Everett in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118

EVERETT — A former member of the USA Climbing team was booked into the Snohomish County Jail this week for investigation of three counts of third-degree child rape.

Alexander Fritz, 28, of Seattle, has worked as a coach and route-setter at Vertical World climbing gyms. He’s accused of having sexual contact with a girl three times in summer 2016, in Bothell, Mukilteo and Redmond.

On Feb. 2, an investigator with the U.S. Center for SafeSport contacted Redmond police about several allegations that Fritz had “relationships” with child athletes, Redmond detective Marshall Tolbert wrote.

SafeSport is a federal investigative body “dedicated solely to ending sexual, physical, and emotional abuse on behalf of athletes everywhere,” its mission statement reads.

The case was forwarded to the FBI due to allegations that Fritz crossed an international border to have sexual contact with children.

On July 14, 2021, an FBI agent contacted Tolbert, saying the federal agency declined to take the lead on the case. Tolbert combined FBI reports with evidence he gathered through his own investigations.

One young woman told police she met Fritz at a climbing competition in Canada in 2015. She was 15 at the time, and Fritz was 22. The climbing coach began sending her messages via Facebook, Snapchat and text message, she later told police in an interview. Eventually they started visiting each other.

The woman alleged she and Fritz had sexual contact when she was 15. She told police it was not consensual.

“Fritz told her not to tell anyone about anything sexual they did,” the report reads. The victim “said Fritz would tell her their relationship would go public when she graduated high school, or turned 16, or turned 18.”

She said Fritz would sometimes buy her alcohol before the unwanted contact. She felt “vulnerable and intoxicated,” she told police.

Asked about the age of consent, the woman reported Fritz had her read a lot about the law “so she would know how to not incriminate him.”

The woman “said she read so much she felt she had the SafeSport policy memorized,” Tolbert wrote. “… She learned the age of consent in both Washington and Canada was 16 years old.”

Fritz was arrested Wednesday.

Everett District Court Judge Anthony Howard set bail Thursday at $500,000.

“You place yourself in a position of trust and then groom teenage girls to then engage in sexual conduct with you while you’re a much older person,” the judge said, citing the police report.

No other victims were identified in the initial probable cause statement.

Internet archives show Fritz has been a part of the local and national climbing community for much of his life.

“Multi-time U.S. National Team for competitive climbing in bouldering, sport, and speed,” reads a bio shared by Vertical World. “Apprentice Coach for U.S. National Team for the World Youth Championships in 2013.”

He has served on USA Climbing’s judicial and coaching committees, with his most recent terms beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

“Fritz was suspended by SafeSport from participating in USA Team competitions and SafeSport certified gyms,” Tolbert wrote. “However, if a climbing gym does not participate in USA Team competitions then they are not overseen by SafeSport. There is nothing to prevent Fritz from offering private coaching or getting a job at a non-SafeSport gym and working with more youth athletes.”

Vertical World did not respond to a request for comment Friday from The Daily Herald.

If he posts bond, Fritz cannot have contact with children, the young woman or her family, Howard ordered. He’s also banned from climbing facilities that serve minors, and he must surrender his passport.

The climbing coach remained in jail Friday.

Herald reporter Jake Goldstein-Street contributed to this report.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arlington woman dies in crash on Highway 530

The Washington State Patrol says a Stanwood man ran a red light, striking Zoey Ensey as she turned onto the highway.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Monkeypox case count rises to 6 in Snohomish County

Meanwhile, cases in the state have roughly doubled every week. Most of those have been in neighboring King County.

Farmer Frog employees sort through a pallet of lettuce at their new location on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Farmer Frog’s new pad, nonprofit helps feed 1.5M Washingtonians

The emergency food distribution network began amid the pandemic. Demand was high — so high, the truck volume led them to move.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County, cities announce $9.6M for mental health, shelter

Projects span from Edmonds to Sultan. Each city is using American Rescue Plan Act money, with the county contributing, too.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Suspect in custody after man’s gunshot death, standoff

Deputies responded to a domestic violence call and found the suspect barricaded on the property near Snohomish.

A view of the proposed alternative station location to Everett Station located east of the current BNSF rail tracks in downtown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and over railroad work?

A group representing people around Everett Station wants Sound Transit to study the idea.

Jon Elmgren, president of the Everett Rock Club, talks with two club members while out searching for olivine and other minerals on Saturday, July 22, 2022, along the Nooksack River near Deming, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett rockhounds dig in for shiny, rare, ‘ugly as sin’ treasure

This club has been around for 83 years. They’ll tell you what rocks their world — and how to identify “leaverite.”

State Representative Robert Sutherland, left, gives a thumbs-up to passing drivers as he and a few volunteers wave flags and campaign signs along the side of State Route 9 on July 22, in Lake Stevens. Sam Low, right, talks with seniors on July 20 in Lake Stevens. (Sutherland photo by Ryan Berry / The Herald, Low photo by Kevin Clark / The Herald)
In GOP battle of Sutherland vs. Low, Democrats may tip the scale

The state lawmaker and Snohomish County council member are vying for a House seat. Democrats make up roughly 40% of the vote.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monroe nixes college program, leaving 150-plus students in the lurch

For years, the Monroe School District footed the bill for “U3” students, who have gotten mixed messages about why that’s ending.

Most Read