Teacher's aide faces sexual misconduct inquiry

Saturday, June 3, 2000

A 49-year-old teacher's aide from Tacoma is under investigation for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old special education student. Federal Way police and Pierce County sheriff's deputies, acting on a tip from Child Protective Services, questioned the woman Friday morning and searched her home north of Tacoma.

Officers carted off bedding, credit card receipts and personal belongings, including the woman's Jeep.

No charges have been filed in the case, according to King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe.

Federal Way police Detective Jim Lindsay confirmed the investigation was continuing but declined to provide any specifics. Sources close to the case, however, described a relationship that bears striking similarities to the highly-publicized pairing of former Highline School District teacher Mary K. Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, her former grade-school student.

Letourneau, 38, is serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence for having sex in 1997 with Fualaau, then 13. She bore him two children. She and Fualaau continue to assert their relationship was "true love," although Fualaau, who will turn 17 later this month, recently sued the school district and the city of Des Moines for $1 million for failing to protect him from the sexual advances of his former teacher.

In the Federal Way case, the woman under investigation allegedly took her 15-year-old student on snowboarding vacations and to area hotels and motels for sex.

Attempts to reach the woman were unsuccessful yesterday. The victim, a troubled teenager with a police record, began acting out violently during the six months he was reportedly involved with the teacher's aide, sources said.

It was unclear yesterday how long the woman, who acted as the teen's unofficial guardian at several of his Juvenile Court appearances, has taught in the Federal Way School District.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Davidson declined to comment on the investigation. The teacher's aide worked at Sacajawea Junior High School until March, when she was transferred to another school in the district, sources said.

On May 12, the woman was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of unprofessional conduct and was ordered to stay away from the boy, the sources said.

A few days later, Federal Way police learned the boy frequently stayed overnight at the woman's home. When questioned, the boy claimed the two had sex regularly during the past school year. Last week, investigators interviewed the woman.

When she was questioned again yesterday, officers took photographs of an "irregularity" on a private part of her body that the teen had identified to investigators.

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