SEATTLE — A special education teacher with Madison Middle School in Seattle Public Schools, who was charged in February with a suspected rape in 2021, was placed on administrative leave this week when the district became aware of the incident.
In court on Wednesday, Darren Hunter plead guilty to a lesser charge – assault in the fourth degree with sexual motivation. That crime is a gross misdemeanor.
Court documents state that Hunter was charged in King County Superior Court with third-degree rape on Feb. 7, following an alleged non-consensual sexual act with a 44-year-old woman on Aug. 15, 2021, in Kent.
However, the Seattle school district didn’t find out about the situation until last Sunday, on Sept. 18.
“The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave on Monday, Sept. 19,” the school district said in an email.
The district emphasized that the incident did not happen on school grounds, and did not involve any students.
According to an investigation by the Kent Police Department, they received a call from the victim on Nov. 9, 2021, alleging she had been raped by Hunter.
Court documents say the victim met Hunter via a dating app in July 2021. They were said to have met for several dates, texted back and forth, and consistently spoke on the phone.
She said Hunter would call her almost every day and they would talk for hours.
According to the victim Hunter began pressuring the woman for sex, but she told him it was too soon.
Documents say on August 15, she went to Hunter’s home. While she was there, she said they discussed sex, including different sexual acts that she was not willing to do.
Eventually, she told investigators he forced himself on her as she said, “No, that’s not going to work.” The defended responded, “It’s fine.” And the victim said, “It hurts, no its not, no… that won’t work.” Documents say the victim felt “overwhelmed and unable to do anything.”
In court on Wednesday, Hunter admitted to the details in the charging documents.
“You are acknowledging the facts alleged, including that you had sex with the victim without her consent – are real for the purposes of this plea,” said Judge Mathew Segal, with the King County Superior Court. “Yes,” Hunter said.
During the investigation when Kent detectives interviewed Hunter, he insisted that everything was consensual.
The principal of Madison Middle School, Dr. Robert Gary, sent an email to families on Wednesday, saying he had only recently learned of the incident, noting it did not involve students or other staff members.
Gary said as soon as he learned of the incident, he shared it with district leadership, who immediately placed Hunter on administrative leave, roughly seven months after Hunter was formally charged.
“In our legal system, people charged with crimes are considered innocent until proven guilty. However, it is also important that as soon as we are made aware, we remove someone accused of this type of crime from contact with staff or students,” Gary said.
The principal noted that administrative leave is not disciplinary.
SPS said in a statement to KIRO7 that while the school district is notified if there’s a crime committed involving minors or a student, they are notified right away. Otherwise, that’s not the case. The district said it’s working on a self-reporting policy, but it’s something that will have to be bargained.
As far as whether Hunter will be able to teach in Seattle schools again – it’s unlikely but unclear. The school district has termination policies for a variety of felony crimes, including sexual offenses. However, with the misdemeanor plea, it will likely need to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Hunter will be sentenced in late October or early November.
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