Middle school settles decades of sexual abuse allegations
Issaquah Middle School agrees to resolve minor sexual assault cases.
Seattle Issaquah Middle School has agreed to pay $ 4.25 million to settle a lawsuit in which former middle school drama teacher Richard Buckley sexually assaulted his student Courtney Dennis for nearly a decade. According to the lawsuit, Buckley began “caring for” Dennis in the late 1990s when she was only 12 years old. He has never been charged with alleged abuse, and the statute of limitations has expired. However, in 2003 he was convicted of first degree child abuse against Dennis’ younger sister.
The lawsuit states: “Buckley, hired in 1992, would often drive school girls home, hold group meetings with students at his home, and stay with them after school, sometimes after dinner. When teachers and parents complained to the district, officials ignored concerns because Buckley, as a “talented” teacher destined to lead the theater department to great heights, sought approval and protection from the administrators. “
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unnsplash
Darrell Cochran, one of the lawyers representing Dennis, said, “The settlement shows that the Issaquah School District has recognized how badly he has behaved and how badly Courtney was injured.” He continued, “When Buckley met Dennis, her parents divorced and he recognized the weakness in accessibility to (her and her sister). The lawsuit continued: “In 1998, Buckley began driving Dennis and her younger sister home from school almost every day, and the sexual assault began after that and continued before, during, and after school. Issaquah Middle School administrators knew Buckley’s behavior was inappropriate, but they took little action and prioritized the drama program over protecting young students from its paraphilic interests. “
Buckley resigned in June 2000 and used letters of recommendation to secure an apprenticeship with the Orcas Island School District. He would sexually assault another teenage student over two years in his new position. In 2003 Buckley was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for the case against Dennis’ sister. He served behind bars for seven years.
The Issaquah School District issued a statement in response to the settlement that the decision was based primarily on the fact that the allegations had occurred years earlier and the costs were being paid by its insurance company. The statement said: “This matter will be resolved before the trial. The case arose because of the circumstances that occurred in the district decades ago. The decision to settle was made taking a number of factors into account, including compensation for a serious breach of trust by a teacher at the time. All billing costs are borne by the district insurer. While the Issaquah School District denies any negligence by the district, we recognize that settlement is a better solution for all concerned. Regardless of the lawsuit and legal process, the district strongly condemns all abuse of a minor. “An agreement was thus reached without admitting any wrongdoing.
Buckley thanked her attorney’s efforts and said she was just glad the ordeal was over.
School District Approves $ 4.25M to Settle Sexual Assaults
Issaquah School District is settling a $ 4.25 million negligence suit