Charges: Choir teacher abused role to have sex with student

Former Lynnwood High School teacher Olivia Sondheim was charged with sexual misconduct.

LYNNWOOD — The first message between a Lynnwood High School student and his choir teacher seemed innocent. It was something about the choir’s Facebook page.

Then they started talking about other topics, according to charging papers filed recently in Snohomish County Superior Court.

On April 9, 2016, they allegedly had sexual contact. The student was 16 at the time.

Olivia Sondheim, 28, was charged Monday, years after the allegations became public. She is facing trial on three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor. Each count represents a potential felony, and prosecutors say she abused her supervisory position for sexual gratification.

Sondheim previously had been investigated for an alleged relationship with another student. However, that boy said the sexual contact did not start until he turned 18 and had graduated. That relationship reportedly took place in summer 2016.

School officials learned of both boys’ allegations in fall 2016 and contacted the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, since the school is outside city limits.

The boy from the April 2016 case said he and the teacher continued to have sexual encounters five to 10 more times. Some of those times, Sondheim would drive him to her home, detectives were told. He recalled the initials of her and her then-husband displayed in large letters on the wall of the master bedroom. He said some of the contact also took place in the teacher’s classroom, on a field trip and at a local park.

She ended it around the end of that school year, telling him she wanted to focus on her marriage, according to court papers. She has since divorced.

Sondheim had no criminal history. She remains free pending her next court hearing. An arraignment has not been scheduled. It does not appear charges have been filed in connection with the second boy.

In Washington, the legal age for sexual consent generally is 16. However, teachers, police officers and others in positions of public trust face additional rules regarding their conduct.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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