North Sound News

Aberdeen elementary school teacher arrested, charged with child rape

MARYSVILLE, Wash. — An Aberdeen Elementary School teacher is behind bars in Snohomish County on one count of child rape.

"It's scary. it's really scary,” said Stephanie Nestor.

Police arrested Ryan Harless, 35, as he left McDermoth Elementary School Wednesday. He's been a physical education teacher there since 2012.

Parents, like Stacie Miller, can't believe the news. She said her daughter was in his class last year.

“I was really shocked and worried and asked my daughter questions,” she said. “Did you notice anything weird about him or anything strange? And she said no, that, you know, she would've had no idea. She was really shocked herself."

Marysville police said Harless sexually assaulted an 11-year-old relative in 2017. Investigators didn't find out about the incident until last week, when the alleged victim's mother called police.

“I think it’s one of the more graphic accounts of child rape that I’ve read in a long time,” said Marysville Police Department Commander Mark Thomas.

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Police said a second relative came forward to report he was victimized by Harless several times between June 2004 and June 2005, when the alleged victim was 11. Additional charges are being reviewed by the prosecutor’s office.

“That's a very concerning charge, of course, for any situation, for any workplace, but especially in the schools, devastating,” said Aberdeen School District Superintendent Alicia Henderson.

Harless taught second-through-sixth grade P.E. for about seven years. Before that, he was a substitute teacher at the district.

KIRO 7 asked if he ever had an inappropriate relationship with an Aberdeen student.

"At this time, we have no indication of that,” said Henderson.

Parents hope that's the case.

“You want to believe that they would never do something like this, you want to believe they go in there and teach our kids and not go in there and put their hands on our children,” said Michelle Day.

Harless is on leave.

The district plans to send out a letter to families Tuesday to address the issue. If parents have concerns, the school district said to contact the Aberdeen Police Department.

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