The Seattle School Board has agreed to pay $700,000 to the family of a developmentally disabled girl who was fondled at Roosevelt High School in 2010 by another student, an 18-year-old registered sex offender.
The settlement resolves a claim filed against the district for $4 million, alleging that it did not properly supervise the 14-year-old girl’s attacker, according to a letter the district sent the Washington State Auditor’s Office last May summarizing pending lawsuits and claims against the district.
The district recommended settling the case to avoid the potential costs of a civil lawsuit, but it denies any wrongdoing.
“The settlement denies fault,” said Lesley Rogers, the district’s chief communications officer.
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The district is insured only for claims exceeding $1 million, so the payment will be made from the district’s general fund.
The claim originated from an incident on May 18, 2010.
Seattle police said at the time that Jose Rafael Reyes, an 18-year-old junior at Roosevelt, persuaded a freshman girl to skip class and go into a girl’s restroom, where she was fondled. The girl told Reyes to stop, which he only did when somebody else came into the restroom, according to police.
On May 20 she told a school counselor what happened, and Reyes was arrested and charged with rape, according to police.
Reyes pleaded guilty to a charge of “communication with a minor for immoral purposes” and was sentenced to 12 months in jail and three years of probation, according to court records.
The case prompted two state lawmakers — Sen. James Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell — to ask the state’s Sex Offender Policy Board to review the case in light of existing laws about who must be notified when students who are sex offenders are enrolled in schools.
Roosevelt officials knew Reyes was a sex offender, but district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel said the district is forbidden by state law “from notifying other students, family or community members.”
Reyes began acting out sexually as early as age 13, according to court papers.
In July 2007, he was charged with attempted child molestation and three separate counts of luring, according to the Sex Offender Policy Board’s 2010 case review.
Reyes pleaded guilty to indecent liberties with force. He qualified for a special probation program for first-time juvenile sex offenders that included treatment and court supervision instead of jail time.
The review indicates Reyes’ probation counselor informed Roosevelt’s vice principal about Reyes’ situation and updated him when Reyes began the probation program.
Reyes began court-ordered treatment in July 2008, and the probation officer met with the school counselor when classes began that fall.
In November 2009, Reyes moved to Kent but remained enrolled at Roosevelt.
He informed the Kent Police Department that he was a sex offender, and Kent police upgraded his risk level from low (Level 1) to moderate (Level 2), according to the Sex Offender Policy Board’s case review. The report noted there was “some confusion” about how Reyes’ risk level was determined and who was notified about the upgrade.
It’s unclear whether Roosevelt officials knew about the increased risk level, which could have changed how they monitored Reyes.
The risk level determines which staff members the principal may inform about a student’s record under state law, said Wippel.
If the offender is Level 1, the principal may provide information only to staff members who need to know for security purposes. If offenders are Level 2 or Level 3, the principal also may provide information to their teachers or anyone else who may supervise the student, according to the district.
John Higgins: 206-464-3145 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jhigginsST