Judge: Sex abuse of former Marysville student violated law

A woman sued the district last year, accusing a longtime art teacher of sexual abuse in the 1980s.

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination due to alleged sex abuse by an art teacher in the 1980s, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Under the law, school districts may have liability for acts by their employees on school grounds, including intentional sexual misconduct.

A woman accused longtime art teacher Kurt Hollstein of sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed in March against the district. Hollstein was her cheerleading adviser, and later her teacher, she said in a Sept. 16, 2021 deposition. The abuse reportedly took place around 1985.

“She wanted to come forward for other victims and seek accountability from those who could’ve protected her,” said her attorney Ashton K. Dennis.

There was at least one other victim, he said.

The woman said Hollstein began driving her home from school when she was in eighth grade at Marysville Junior High School, which she thought was “innocent,” at the time. From then, she said, Hollstein developed a “closeness” with her “almost like a boyfriend.”

Her first memory of Hollstein inappropriately touching her was in a film darkroom at the junior high school in the spring of her eighth grade year, she said.

Hollstein was placed on leave in spring 2021, the district said in a statement.

The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

In March 2021, the district shared a statement alleging it “has no record of any notice of a possible abuse allegation from that time.”

The school district did not dispute that the alleged abuse constituted discrimination, according to court papers filed this month. Superior Court Judge Paul Thompson granted the partial summary judgment.

“In essence, my client was a thriving and striving junior high student until she came in contact with Mr. Hollstein who groomed and abused her,” said Dennis, an attorney for the Washington Law Center. “Ultimately, there will be a trial to resolve the remainder of the claims.”

The tentative civil trial date is set for May.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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