Issaquah SD will pay massive settlement in sexual abuse case

ISSAQUAH, Wash.  --  The Issaquah School District will pay over $4.25 million to a woman who said her middle school teacher sexually abused her in the late 1990s.

In court papers, Courtney Dennis and her attorney, Kevin Hastings, alleged it was an open secret that one of the teachers at Issaquah Middle School was a predator, yet they insisted administrators did nothing to stop him.

“I don’t even know yet how it has affected me,” Dennis told KIRO. “I look forward to finding that out through counseling and therapy.”

Her teacher’s name was Richard Buckley.

According to court papers, Buckley would often invite female students, like Dennis, over to his home without the knowledge or approval of the girls’ parents.

Attorneys believe Buckley’s inappropriate behavior lasted for years.

“(The lawsuit) is lengthy process and in this case, it showed that Richard Buckley, almost beginning in 1992 after being hired, was targeting young women for inappropriate actions,” said Hastings.

Dennis’ lawsuit alleged the principal of Issaquah Middle School did nothing about it.

In fact, even after several parents and teachers expressed worry about Buckley’s actions, lawyers said Buckley’s boss wrote him a letter of recommendation.

“(School administrators) made myself, my mom, my parents feel silly for even bringing such a thing up. And they made excuse after excuse,” said Dennis, who added that she felt the true impact of her trauma once her kids became teenagers.

“To look back and look at what was lost in my childhood -- it really caused me to put the pieces together and to reach out and speak out,” she said.

It resulted in the biggest sexual abuse settlement involving a school district in Washington State history.

At $4.25 million, Dennis hopes her case will inspire other victims to come forward.

“(The settlement) is a great, great starting point to rebuild my life and to heal from this.”

Buckley went to prison for several years because of Dennis’ case.

At the same time, the principal of Issaquah Middle School during the abuse retired more than a decade ago.