Seattle Public Schools paying $700,000 to sex assault victim

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SEATTLE —

The Seattle Public School board voted unanimously to pay a special-needs student $700,000, to settle a controversial three year old sexual assault lawsuit, out of court.

In May of 2010, the unidentified student, then a 14-year-old freshman, was sexually assaulted in Roosevelt High School by another student, who had been classified by the state as a Level II sex offender.  According to court documents, Jose Raphael Reyes, who was 18 at the time, groomed the girl for weeks, before pulling her into a school bathroom, and sexually assaulting her.

Reyes was sentenced to a year in jail, followed by three years of community supervision.

Washington State law prohibits school administration from telling students, parents, or community about a student’s status as a registered sex offender. In 2010, Roosevelt staff was told about Reyes’ criminal past, but students—including the victim, were never notified.

Former students, like Julian Hoffer, believe the law should be changed, to protect students.

“This could have easily been prevented,” said Hoffer. “Knowledge is power, and if students knew about his record, the whole thing might not have happened.”

According to the claim against Seattle Public Schools, Reyes was not supervised closely enough by Roosevelt staff members. The claim called for $4 million in damages.

KIRO 7 did the math, $700,000—in taxpayer funds—could pay the annual average salaries of fourteen teachers, with thousands in cash left over.

“We found the amount distressing,” said school board member Michael DeBell. “We settled to prevent the case from going to court.”

According to SPS, the Roosevelt staff members involved with Reyes’ supervision were never disciplined.