On October 20, 2021, a federal district court jury in Tacoma awarded $500,000 in damages to a former student who was sexually harassed and abused in the special education program at Bethel High School. The student was represented by PCVA partner Thomas Vertetis, PCVA associate William McClure and attorneys Loren Cochran and Cole Douglas.
The student, identified as CKM, was subjected to persistent sexual harassment and abuse by a special needs classmate who had a known history of sexual assault against lower functioning peers in the neighboring Clover Park School District.
The jury found that the Bethel School District violated CKM’s federal, constitutional rights during the 2012-2013 school year by not stopping the harassment and by failing to report the abuse to the proper authorities. The jury also found the district negligent for failing to protect CKM at school.
The classmate who sexually abused CKM had been moved and eventually expelled from two other schools in Lakewood, Washington, before being transferred by his family to Bethel. Records of the student’s past sexual assaults followed him to Bethel as he transferred, but none of the information was carefully reviewed by district administrators.
The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Media coverage about the verdict.