BOTHELL — The family counselor, who specialized in working with “young, fatherless boys,” was a hugger.
He asked a 10-year-old boy if he was OK with hugs during a therapy session in the summer of 2018, according to court papers filed last month in Snohomish County Superior Court.
“Not really,” the boy reportedly said, and shrugged his shoulders.
They agreed on handshakes and high-fives.
Throughout five sessions, however, the man became increasingly inappropriate with personal contact, prosecutors wrote.
He allegedly put a pillow on his lap and had the boy rest his head on it. He played with the boy’s hair and touched him underneath the shirt. Sometimes he would kiss the boy on the forehead.
The boy later told an investigator that he would gag when answering questions about his puberty and sexual development.
The sessions were supposed to be about the boy’s behavioral issues and his relationship with his father, his mother reported.
Brian Hall, 58, who did counseling through his business Family Seed & Soil in Bothell, is charged with two counts of indecent liberties and two counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.
Seven sexual assault protection orders were filed against him, preventing him from coming into contact with seven children, including the 10-year-old.
The other boys reported similar experiences with Hall. They reported that Hall would hug them, hold their hands, kiss them on the forehead, and say he loved them. One boy said the counselor wouldn’t touch him the same way when his mother was in the room with them.
He would also pressure boys to go to church, according to charging papers. Before moving to his own office, he was based out of a church in Bothell.
After Hall was arrested in August 2018, a woman called the Bothell Police Department’s tip line to say good things about him.
Two hours later, she called back. Her 14-year-old son had more information for detectives.
He said Hall hugged him during sessions every week between October 2017 and April 2018. The hugs weren’t normal, the boy reportedly told a detective; they were the kind you would give a girlfriend or significant other. They made him feel uncomfortable, he reportedly said.
According to him, the counselor would play a sexual development audio book during sessions.
The boy “said that the defendant was really weird and had a really weird vibe,” according to charging papers.
In an Aug. 17, 2018, phone call with the 10-year-old boy’s mother, Hall reportedly denied touching the child inappropriately. He admitted to it when the mother brought up the issue again, but said he didn’t do it intentionally, according to charging papers.
“I crossed the line with your son,” he reportedly told her in the call, which was recorded by a Bothell Police detective. “Will you forgive me?”
Hall’s licenses as a counselor, social worker and chemical dependency professional were suspended by the state Department of Health. A jury trial is scheduled for September.
In 1991, Hall was accused of two counts of child molestation in Kitsap County. Those charges were eventually dismissed.