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Teen sues Reynolds district over alleged 2008 molestation

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Ex-substitute teacher accused of molesting girl at Alder Elementary School.

GOOGLE PHOTO - Alder Elementary School in the Reynolds School District, as seen on Google Street View.The Reynolds School District is sending out letters to parents warning that a substitute teacher has been accused of molesting at least one student in 2008.

The alleged molestation came to light when a now 18 year-old victim filed a $6.2 million lawsuit, saying the abuse happened when she was a third-grader at Alder Elementary School.

The district's letter to parents, dated Monday, March 13, said the teacher no longer works in the district. It said the substitute was disciplined by the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) in August 2003, and the teacher's license was suspended for 30 days with four years of probation for inappropriate use of a school computer and grooming behaviors toward students in another district.

The Alder student's family reported the teacher's behavior to Portland Police in 2011. As a result of that report, TSPC revoked his teaching license for gross neglect of duty in 2014, the letter said.

Reynolds schools contracted with the Multnomah Education Service District for its substitutes. Laura Conroy, an MESD spokesperson, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Reynolds School District staff who work with students are fingerprinted and have criminal history checks before working with students, according to the Reynolds letter. These procedures would not identify a risk, as the substitute teacher was not convicted of a crime previously, the letter said.

"At this time, the district is investigating and does not have any additional information," the letter told parents. It urges parents with any information on the case to contact the non-emergency police line at 503-823-3333.

Although the school district letter names the male teacher who allegedly molested the girl, The Outlook is not identifying the former substitute teacher because he was never criminally charged and because he is not listed as a defendant in the civil lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, reported on earlier by KOIN 6 News, a media partner of The Outlook and Pamplin Media Group:

• The substitute teacher is accused of engaging in "grooming behavior," and that he paid extra attention to five Hispanic students and complimented the girls. At one point, the suit alleges, the substitute teacher called the victim "Bonita," which is Spanish for pretty.

"(The substitute teacher) also engaged in affectionate touching by hugging the five girls and rubbing their shoulders," the suit read.

• Reynolds School District failed to adequately monitor the substitute teacher's behavior, and staff was not properly trained to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse.

• Between April and May 2008, the substitute teacher sexually abused the victim "on several occasions," and is accused of sitting close to her and reaching under a table to touch her genitals.

• In October 2002, the substitute teacher was issued a formal letter of reprimand by the Beaverton School District after it was found out he exchanged inappropriate emails with students, gave students gifts, sent notes and cards to students and had inappropriate physical contact with a former student.

Regarding the allegations in the civil lawsuit, records show a police report was filed. The TSPC received information from the Portland Police Bureau in June 2011 indicating the substitute teacher may have committed acts of "gross neglect of duty."

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office confirmed to KOIN it received police reports about the allegations, but prosecutors sent the case back to the investigating officers for follow up. Additional information on what happened to the case was not immediately provided by the bureau to KOIN.

Maureen Wheeler, a spokesperson with the Beaverton School District, confirmed the teacher's employment with the district. The substitute teacher was hired on Aug. 31, 1998, and terminated on Aug. 20, 2003. Wheeler offered no other details.

The TSPC told KOIN it sent the teacher's history to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification Clearinghouse, a national collection point for professional educator discipline actions taken across the country.

KOIN has made multiple attempts, via phone and email, to reach the teacher named in the lawsuit, but messages have not been returned.