By Jim Haley, Herald Writer
A former Lake Stevens High School athlete who was hired last year for two months as a assistant track coach was charged Friday with having sex with a student.
Ryan Michael McKinney, 25, of Everett, was charged Friday with second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor, a gross misdemeanor.
Charging papers accuse him of having sex with a then 17-year-old girl who was a student at the school. At the time, McKinney was 24. The maximum penalty, if convicted, is a year in the county jail.
McKinney worked for Lake Stevens part-time last spring. His contract had already expired in June when district officials became aware of the alleged sexual relationship, said Arlene Hulten, a Lake Stevens School District spokeswoman.
He doesn’t have a teaching certificate and only worked for the district for one track season, Hulten said.
After hearing about the relationship, district officials called police and wrote to McKinney. School leaders banned him from communicating with any student in the district, from being on school property and from going to any event where students were present, Hulten said.
District officials were waiting for police to complete their probe before they began an internal investigation.
“It’s a matter of talking to coaches and people to make sure we have systems in place that are as safe and secure as they possibly can be,” Hulten said.
No district employees have been disciplined as a result of the incident, Hulten said.
As an assistant coach, McKinney specialized in field events. Because track is a co-ed sport, he worked with both boys and girls.
No other students have come forward with allegations of abuse, Hulten said.
“All of our athletic teams and programs at the high school are very well supervised and are safe,” she said. “If parents have concerns they should absolutely call the principal or bring their concerns to the coach and share their concerns immediately.”
McKinney, was a standout track athlete for Lake Stevens in 2001.
According to charging papers, McKinney was hired on March 22, 2007. The track season continued through May because the team went to the state championships.
The girl told authorities that she and McKinney began exchanging text messages on cell phones in early May, and then started phone conversations, which became “more personal,” deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter said in documents.
The contact first became physical in mid May at a home in Marysville where McKinney was house sitting, Hunter said.
The relationship was exposed when the girl told some friends. One of the friends told to a school counselor in early June, Hunter said.
According to documents, the girl’s mother later confronted McKinney.
“He admitted the relationship but tried to justify it by characterizing the age difference as inconsequential,” Hunter said.
McKinney is not in jail. Hunter will ask that a judge require McKinney not have contact with the girl or any other prosecution witness, and that he not hold any positions of trust involving minors.
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org