Melissa Bowerman was arrested on sex abuse allegations involving a 17-year-old boy. She is the daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman and a track and field coach at Madras High School. Police say she was arrested Monday.
State police got a tip that the 43-year-old “was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a juvenile male,” they said in a news release. Melissa Bowerman has been coaching the team for two years.
Troopers arrested Melissa at her home in Fossil. Bowerman was taken to the Jefferson County Jail in Madras on suspicion of second-degree sexual abuse, luring a minor, second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. The first three accusations are felonies and the fourth is a misdemeanor.
The allegations cover conduct about Bowerman since May police said. Melissa Bowerman’s husband Jon said authorities served a search warrant at the couple’s house early Monday and searched his wife’s computers, cameras and other belongings. Jon Bowerman wasn’t home at the time.
“I’m still in a state of shock,” Jon Bowerman told The Oregonian. The two have been married six years and he helped his wife coach the Madras track team.
He hasn’t been able to talk to his wife since her arrest. Melissa Bowerman is scheduled for an arraignment on Tuesday.
“She’s still my wife, I still love her and still will no matter how this thing turns out,” the 76-year-old stated after Melissa Bowerman was arrested.
In May 2012, Bowerman, whose late father-in-law invented the waffle-soled running shoe and co-founded Nike with Phil Knight, was dismissed as the volunteer Condon/Wheeler track coach after she escorted a 17-year-old boy to the Condon High School prom. Melissa had been coaching the team with her husband.
“We all should have learned from that,” Jon Bowerman stated.
At the time, Brad Sperry, athletic director of Wheeler High School and superintendent of the Fossil School District, told The Oregonian: “All I will say for the record is that there is way more to that story than just a date to the prom and no comment on anything else. It’s very unfortunate it ever got to this point. … A thing like this, there’s two sides. One side normally talks, and the other can’t talk.”
Gilliam County Sheriff Gary Bettencourt, who received a complaint from a chaperone, said he has found no evidence that Melissa broke the law.
Melissa Bowerman said attending the prom with a boy from the track team was an error in judgment, but she felt bad because he didn’t have a date and was struggling in English class. Bowerman said the two did not have an inappropriate relationship.
Rory Oster, who just left his job as Madras High’s athletic director in June for a similar job in Camas, said the Madras school brought in Melissa and Jon Bowerman as volunteer coaches to start “and monitored them closely.” Melissa Bowerman is still in custody at this time. Oster said he is still trying to figure out how this incident could happen.