$3 million to be paid in teacher molesting case
Seattle Public Schools will pay $3 million for failing to act on dozens of warnings that a popular teacher was molesting some of his fifth-grade students, a pattern that lasted two decades.
The most abused girl will receive $2.5 million, which her attorney said will be the largest reported settlement paid by a school district in Washington to a single victim in a sex-abuse case.
Under the settlement, approved Monday in King County Superior Court, the district acknowledged negligence in failing to protect two girls from Laurence "Shayne" Hill, 58, who has admitted to molesting at least seven girls while teaching at Broadview-Thomson Elementary in North Seattle.
The girls' lawyers said the district protected Hill even though at least 15 teachers and staff members made at least 30 reports to administrators that he was grabbing girls' buttocks and having them sit on his lap, sometimes in darkened classrooms, since the mid-1980s.
Hill had been warned at least twice by principals to maintain "appropriate physical boundaries" with his students. But no administrator or teacher reported the complaints to police or to Child Protective Services.
By law, teachers and other school personnel are required to report suspected child abuse to one of those agencies.
"Three administrators in a row did nothing with (the reports)," he said. "They did not want to upset the school environment, not want to make waves. ... It was that kind of disconnect. In effect, they protected a popular teacher at the expense of 10- and 11-year-old girls."
Hill wasn't placed on administrative leave until the mother of one of his victims arrived at school to find him touching her daughter's buttocks in April 2005. He later resigned.
Hill was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison in December 2005 after pleading guilty to two counts of child molestation and two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
Two of the school administrators accused of failing to act on warnings about Hill are still employed by the school district. Spencer would not comment on whether any administrators had been disciplined in relation to the case.
One victim's abuse included being digitally raped by Hill, Bemis said. The girl will be awarded $2.5 million, which Bemis said was larger than any reported settlement paid by a school district to a single victim of sex abuse, though confidential settlements could have exceed that amount.
Un-fucking-believable! Not only that he wasn't reported in all of those years, but that some of the administrators are STILL employed in the school district? WTF?