Elementary teacher accused of child rape in Marysville

Ryan Harless, 35, a gym teacher in Aberdeen, has been accused by two young boys.

Ryan Harless (Aberdeen School District)

Ryan Harless (Aberdeen School District)

MARYSVILLE — An Aberdeen elementary school teacher has been arrested for investigation of child rape after allegedly having sexual contact with a Marysville boy in 2017.

Detectives in Aberdeen arrested Ryan Harless, 35, on Wednesday. He was later booked into the Snohomish County Jail in Everett. Police said Harless had sexual contact with the child when the boy was 11.

The Aberdeen School District learned of the arrest shortly after Harless was taken into custody, Marysville police Cmdr. Mark Thomas said.

His staff bio says he taught gym at McDermoth Elementary School in Aberdeen. Records indicate Harless has never worked for the Marysville School District.

A man in his 20s also has come forward, reporting that he was sexually abused by Harless several times between June 2004 and June 2005, when he was 11 and living outside Snohomish County, Thomas said. Those allegations will be reviewed by prosecutors.

In court papers, police noted a major concern: “Harless is an Elementary PE teacher and has access to other children the same age as his victims.”

Marysville police became aware of the accusations against Harless on Feb. 7, when the boy’s mother, who lives in Marysville, called police. The boy now lives in Florida. He recently disclosed to his mother that he was sexually assaulted, Thomas said. Marysville detectives are working with Florida law enforcement.

“This is still an active investigation, and as such there are still leads to be followed,” said Marysville Detective Sgt. James Maples in a press release.

Harless has no record of criminal convictions. School district administrators in Aberdeen have talked to faculty at McDermoth, according to the The Daily World.

“We encourage the community, if they have concerns about Mr. Harless, to contact the police department as this is an active investigation,” district superintendent Alicia Henderson told the local newspaper.

Harless has been employed as a gym teacher in Aberdeen since 2012. There had been no complaints or disciplinary action against him in the past, Henderson said.

“As always, the safety of our students remains a primary concern,” according to a written statement from the superintendent. “The District will keep itself apprised and will take all necessary steps to ensure the least possible disruption to the learning environment. To that end, we ask our community’s assistance regarding the tenor of social media conversations while the legal process plays out.”

Asked if any decisions had been made regarding Harless’ employment with the district, Henderson said, “No.”

“At this time there has not been any action taken about his employment,” she said, according to The Daily World. “He is not at work today because he is in custody.”

Snohomish County corrections deputies cleared a jail courtroom of all other inmates for Harless’ bail hearing Thursday.

Everett District Court Judge Anthony Howard found probable cause to hold Harless in jail on two counts of first-degree child rape.

The judge set bail at $100,000. The court banned him from having any contact with minors.

“Our experience in cases of this nature is that there could be additional victims that have not yet come forward,” said Marysville Detective Craig Bartl. “We are asking that any victims please contact their local law enforcement agency and make a report.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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