Since 2008, there have been reports of a grown man appearing seemingly out of nowhere out at high school sports games, and suddenly joining up with the young male players at the end of the game, particularly right after the players are fresh out of the locker room shower, ESPN reports. The now 34-year-old man, whose name is Sherwin Shayegan, is not believed to have ever attempted to sexually assault or kidnap any of the teen athletes, with the exception of luring a high school athlete back to a library for an interview, Grantland reports. However, a more recent report from KTVB states that Shayegan was arrested in 2014 for attempting to pull a teenager into the locker room, a much more disturbing and sinister charge.
The majority of the time, Shayegan is simply cruising for piggybacks. He spies a group of athletes, he sneaks up on them, screams “piggyback!” as he charges at them and…piggybacks them. Bear in mind, Sherwin is over 6 feet tall and well over 200 pounds. Imagine a man of that size running up behind a skinny 14-year-old freshman and throwing his girth on him. He has since earned the nickname “The Piggyback Bandit” and has been blazing a bizarre trail across the United States for the past ten years, puzzling teenagers, parents and the authorities alike, leaving a bewildered, confused and agitated path in his wake.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sherwin Shayegan is a Former High School Athletics Manager
Shayegan is from a suburb of Seattle, Time confirms. He graduated from Inglemoor High School in 2002, according to his mother, Rana, Grantland confirms. Rana claims that Sherwin is harmless and would never hurt anyone. She says that he is just a really, really big sports fan who yearns to return to his high school days.
As Grantland explains, back when Shayegan was in high school in Bothell, Washington, he acted as the manager for several varsity sports teams. He handed out water and towels and was an enthusiastic supporter. His former coach did not recall any piggybacking while Shayegan was manager; just a lot of high-fives.
2. Shayegan Has Been Banned From Dozens of High Schools, Multiple Towns & Several States
Shayegan has been charged with trespassing a number of times. “Shayegan has a lengthy criminal rap sheet in Washington, as well as nine outstanding warrants in one town in that state. Because of his piggyback antics, he has been banned from high school sporting events in Washington, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota,” ESPN reported in an article written back in 2012.
Shayegan reportedly keeps a meticulous list of every school, town and state that he has been banned from. An article published by Time takes a much more sympathetic look at Shayegan. He has been drifting aimlessly since high school, existing on disability benefits and a small amount of money from his mother. The only time he was ever happy was in high school. He knows that he does not belong at high school athletic games, and expects to be kicked out. He adamantly denies that there is anything sexual about his piggybacking, and becomes extremely upset when the question of his motives is raised.
3. Shayegan Has Asperger’s Syndrome
Shayegan’s mother says that Sherwin has Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum, Deadspin reports. In 2012, he notoriously showed up in a basketball uniform at a game in North Dakota held at Century High School, ESPN reported. “‘He helped lay out uniforms, got water. He even gave a couple of kids shoulder massages. Creepy stuff like that,’ said Jim Haussler, activities director for the Bismarck Public School District” stated in the ESPN article.
Shayegan then began asking the players for piggyback rides. Not sure how to respond, one teenager obliged. “‘He makes himself appear as if he’s limited or handicapped. I think he plays an empathy card, so to speak,’ Haussler said. ‘We didn’t realize what we were dealing with until several days later,’” the athletic director of the high school continued in the ESPN article.
As with most adults and teenagers alike who encounter Sherwin Shayegan, Jim Haussler, activities director for the Bismarck Public School District, did not know that he was dealing with a serial offender, he explained to ESPN.
“Seattle resident Paul Huenefeldt told the Associated Press that he has been a friend of Shayegan’s for 20 years, that he’s obsessive, has emotional problems, and that he’s never really fit in,” The Daily Beast reports.
4. Shayegan Claims That His Piggybacking is Not Sexual in Nature
In 2011, two detectives in Helena, Montana received a tip from a hotel clerk that the Piggyback Bandit was in town and had requested to use the hotel courtesy shuttle to attend a high school soccer game. Recognizing the Bandit from various news reports that had been following his path across the US, the clerk figured it was better safe than sorry, since no one knew whether this bizarre character was harmless or not, Grantland reports.
So, two Helena detectives reported to the high school to see what was going on. “When the final whistle blew, the detectives watched as Sherwin hurried onto the field and approached a C.M. Russell player. He said a few words to the player and gave him a fist bump. Then Sherwin did his super-creepy thing: As the player walked away, Sherwin heaved his girth onto the player’s back. He wanted a piggyback ride,” one of the detectives explained to Grantland.
The detectives compared the look on Shayegan’s face to sexual satisfaction, “as if he had been masturbating.” However, Shayegan denies that there is any sexual motivation behind his piggybacking. The detectives admitted that they are acting on nothing more than a gut feeling that the piggybacking is, in fact, sexual in nature.
5. Shayegan Was Last Arrested on Friday, December 29, 2017
Shayegan appears to be at it again, unfortunately. Mugshots.com reports that on December 29, 2017, Shayegan was arrested at Newark Airport in New Jersey after massaging a teenage boy’s back without permission, and then attempting to give him money and a note. While the contents of the note have not been made public, the note was sexually suggestive in nature, according to Mugshots.com. A JetBlue employee witnessed the encounter and gave relevant information to the authorities. Shayegan was later apprehended.
According to People, police searched Shayegan’s hotel room and found that it was full of envelopes containing sexually explicit notes and money. It is unknown if Shayegan will face charges in connection with the New Jersey arrest, or if he is still piggybacking his way across the USA.
In the meantime, Shayegan’s bizarre behavior has left kids, adults and police officers rather puzzled. What to do with the Piggyback Bandit?