PCVA partners Darrell Cochran and Kevin Hastings, and associate Michael McNeil, reached a $4.25 million settlement with the Issaquah School District in a sexual abuse case that began in 1992. The lawsuit filed against the Issaquah School District and Janet Barry (former superintendent) alleged that a student was sexually assaulted on and off campus by teacher Richard Buckley starting when she was 13 years old. Despite knowing that the teacher was a danger to young students, the school district failed to protect her.
In an interview with The Seattle Times, Cochran said the settlement is “indicative that the Issaquah School District recognized how badly it behaved and how badly Courtney was injured. It should help school districts all over the state take notice that when you make a mistake like this, you’re going to be held accountable.”
The plaintiff, now 32, was sexually assaulted by Buckley starting when she was 13 years old. Years before Buckley began grooming and assaulting her, the district knew he was a danger to young students yet failed to protect her.
Buckley’s paraphilic interest in young students at Issaquah Middle School started almost immediately after he was hired in 1992. Teachers and parents both took notice of his inappropriate interactions with young female students and made complaints to the school. All concerns and complaints were “dead on arrival”—or simply never made out of fear of retaliation—because Buckley was seen as being a talented teacher who was taking the drama department to the next level. Administrators at Issaquah Middle School knew that Buckley’s behavior was inappropriate, but they took zero action, favoring instead the drama program over protecting young female students. In fact, Buckley’s fiercest advocate was the school principal, Marilyn Luckman, who tirelessly supported and protected him from scrutiny.
The emotional and psychological toll that the years of sexual abuse had on the former student are severe and life-altering. Even after the school system knew about Buckley’s behavior, they supported him, writing glowing letters of recommendation for him to teach in another school system and enabling him to continue to prey on young women.
Additional media coverage on the settlement.
San Francisco Chronicle, “School district agrees to $4.25M sexual assault settlement“
The Seattle Times, “Issaquah School District agrees to $4.25 million sexual assault settlement”
Q13 Fox Seattle, “Issaquah school district agrees to $4.25M sexual assault settlement“
Issaquah Reporter, “Issaquah School District settles negligence lawsuit for $4.25 million”