Police are investigating whether Albert C. Virachismith may have victimized other children enrolled in as many as eight other schools where he had worked since 2014.
Update: Seattle Public Schools on Thursday identified eight additional schools where Albert C. Virachismith, a former teacher’s assistant who is now accused of raping an elementary student, had worked since 2014.
Prosecutors this week charged a Seattle man who worked as a teaching assistant at a Southeast Seattle elementary school with repeatedly raping a student inside a school bathroom during the 2016-17 academic year.
Police are now investigating whether the 40-year-old man may have victimized other children enrolled in as many as eight other Seattle schools where he had worked since 2014.
Albert C. Virachismith faces felony counts of child rape and child molestation for allegedly assaulting the student at John Muir Elementary five to six times, according to charging papers filed in King County Superior Court on Tuesday.
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“The defendant, because of his professional role, was well aware of the rule that only one student was allowed in the bathroom,” the documents say. “The defendant knew that the young victim would be alone and isolated in the bathroom. This knowledge allowed and empowered the defendant to sexually assault the second grader uninterrupted and undetected.”
Virachismith is being held at the King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 15.
“During his tenure as an employee of Seattle Public Schools, the defendant had access to thousands of children,” Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Emily Petersen wrote in a case summary. “Seattle Police Department is continuing to investigate whether other children suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the defendant.”
Kim Schmanke, a spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools, said Wednesday that the school district learned about the rape allegations Jan. 29 and “immediately moved to bar (Virachismith) from our job system and access to school grounds.”
District officials worked with the Seattle police sexual-assault unit throughout last week and notified Muir families about the case Feb. 2 after police gave the go-ahead, she said. “We sent an email that afternoon to all families with email addresses in our notification system, and backed that up with U.S. mail — all methods translated into multiple languages.”
Virachismith had worked in the district from the 2014-15 school year into this school year, Schmanke said. Because he worked as a part-time or temporary employee in “other buildings” aside from Muir Elementary, the school district also has notified families whose children attend eight other schools about the allegations, she added.
Schmanke declined to identify the other schools Wednesday, saying police have yet to tell the district it’s OK to release that information. State personnel data show Virachismith worked at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in the Rainier Valley duirng the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Two local blogs also recently identified another school, Denny Middle School in West Seattle, where families had been notified last week by district officials about the rape allegations.
“We have no information that anything happened in our school, but we want you to be aware,” said the notice to Denny families, which was first published by the West Seattle Blog.
Virachismith, who was employed full time at the Muir school in Mount Baker from the start of the 2016-17 school year, had no previous criminal record, the charging documents say.
He allegedly used his position of authority as an instructional aide, as well as threats of violence, to keep the victim silent about the attacks. “It was only after the defendant stopped working at the victim’s school that the victim felt safe enough to report to his father what had happened,” according to Petersen’s case summary.
At the time the child came forward, Virachismith hadn’t been to work for a few months after being “placed on administrative leave for an unrelated issue,” according to a detective’s probable-cause affidavit.
Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said Wednesday the sexual-assault investigation remains “active and ongoing.”
Anyone with information about additional potential victims is asked to contact Detective Anthony Belgarde at email@example.com.
Correction: Information included in an earlier version of this online story incorrectly described a blog that posted a notification letter to Denny Middle School families about the accused teaching assistant as PTA-sponsored. The Seattle Schools Community Forum blog is independent.