The so-called “Piggyback Bandit” has returned to Spokane.
On Nov. 30, Sherwin Shayegan – whose habit of unwanted contact with student athletes has banned him from schools in five states – was videotaped walking down the halls of North Central High School during a boy’s basketball game. This past weekend he was spotted at Mead High School giving a student a shoulder rub.
In both cases, school officials said Shayegan wasn’t doing anything illegal and wasn’t being disruptive enough to warrant a forced removal, though he was asked to leave North Central. Notices were sent to administrators and school resource officers to be on alert.
Shayegan, 34, earned the “Bandit” moniker in 2012 after an Associated Press story detailed his antics at high schools across the United States. According to the story, Shayegan was known to frequent boy’s high school sporting events, where he would physically engage players, sometimes asking or demanding that they give him a piggyback ride. In a handful of cases, Shayegan – reported to weigh around 240 pounds – has jumped on a player’s back uninvited.
Shayegan has primarily made problems in Washington or Oregon, but according to the Associated Press, has shown up in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. In each state, he solicited contact with sports teams, in some cases posing as staff to gain access to the players.
While Shayegan has no felony convictions in Washington, schools are wary of his presence. Kevin Morrison, spokesman for Spokane Public Schools, said the district sent a notice out to school administrators, athletic directors and school resource officers warning of his presence.
“We don’t have any reason at this point to give him a no trespass,” Morrison said. “He has not done anything that we’re aware of in our district.”
Morrison said it’s not against the rules to ask players for piggyback rides, and in the case of his presence in North Central, Shayegan was only walking around the school grounds when he was spotted. Morrison said Shayegan has no assault allegations against him in the district.
At Mead things weren’t so innocent, school officials said. Shayegan was reported to have sat behind the boy’s basketball team’s bench and at one point, gave players back rubs. A video surfaced online, apparently taken from a cellphone, showing Shayegan rubbing a student’s back.
Jared Hoadley, spokesman for the Mead School District, said after Shayegan was spotted, a note was sent to administrators who attend games and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, so they’re aware of his presence.
“In case it should ever happen again, we are ready to confront the situation and deal with it,” she said.
This fall, Shayegan was also spotted at Rogers High School at a boy’s football game. Morrison said Shayegan was “being disruptive” and “forward with students.”
“They were feeling uncomfortable,” Morrison said. “We had an administrator step in and ask him to leave. At first he kind of refused, so they were a little more adamant, so he left.”
The Associated Press reported Shayegan had previous contact with a Spokane high school sports team when he was caught hanging around the locker room of Ferris High School basketball players in 2008 – the year they won the state championship.
“He was jumping on players’ backs after they showered and came out of the locker room,” one person is quoted as saying.
Not much is known about Shayegan publicly, other than that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, according to a 2012 profile in Grantland in which the author talked to his parents. In the AP story, Shayegan is said to have grown up in Bothell in Western Washington.