Longtime Marysville teacher accused of sex abuse in 1980s

A former student, now 49, alleges Kurt Hollstein began grooming her in eighth grade. He is now on leave.

MARYSVILLE — A woman has accused her former teacher of sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed this week against the Marysville School District.

The lawsuit accuses longtime art teacher Kurt Hollstein of grooming the girl, starting when she was in eighth grade. The abuse allegedly took place in the 1980s. As of this school year, Hollstein was serving as the athletic director at Marysville Getchell High School.

According to a statement by the plaintiff’s law firm: “It is believed that Mr. Hollstein has had other allegations of sexually inappropriate contact with students.”

Hollstein is now on leave, the district said in a statement Thursday.

“The district recognizes that the allegations set forth in the complaint touch upon sensitive subjects for all involved, as well as the community,” the statement reads. “The District has legal counsel on this matter and is unable to offer any other further comment on the complaint or the specific allegations in the lawsuit at this time.”

Snohomish County Superior Court records filed by the plaintiff’s attorneys include a note he reportedly gave the woman while she was still a student, handwritten in pencil on paper that appears to be from a yellow legal pad.

“I still love you,” it reads. “… Talk if you need to, cry if you want, but don’t give up on me or think that I don’t care — I LOVE YOU.”

The alleged abuse reportedly took place around 1985, when the woman was about 14, said her attorney, Ashton K. Dennis. The plaintiff attended Marysville Junior High School at the time. That school became Totem Middle School in 2006.

“The District has no record of any notice of a possible abuse allegation from that time,” the district’s statement said.

Hollstein is not listed as an actual defendant in the civil case, though he is identified by name in the court documents.

Public records show Hollstein is now 67. As late as Wednesday, he was still listed on an online staff roster as an art teacher at Marysville Getchell High School. His name was removed Thursday after The Daily Herald asked about the case.

Hollstein couldn’t be reached for comment.

On the Wesco Athletics website, he was also listed as athletic director of the school. A 2020-21 student handbook named him in that role, too.

The woman is now 49. She still lives in Snohomish County, Dennis said. She is seeking damages, though the amount is to be determined in court.

The lawsuit claims the district violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, that the woman was “discriminated against because of her sex” and as a result was harmed physically and emotionally after being coerced into performing sexual acts.

“Defendant Marysville is strictly liable for the discrimination,” the lawsuit reads.

Dennis is an attorney for the Washington Law Center. A note on the firm’s home page asks anyone with more information to come forward.

“Were you or someone you know sexually abused by Kurt Hollstein?” it reads. “We can get you compensated.”

No formal complaints have been made against the teacher, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. An investigation could begin if requested by the district, said Catherine Slagle, director of the OSPI Office of Professional Practices.

“Once the school completes their investigation into the allegations, if they determine there is sufficient reliable information that a violation of the code of conduct occurred, the Marysville SD Superintendent will send a letter of complaint to our office,” Slagle wrote in an email. “We will review and determine if we have jurisdiction. If we do, we will open an investigation into the allegations.”

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Full statement from the Marysville School District:

A complaint was recently filed against the Marysville School District by a former student who last attended school in the 1980s. The lawsuit alleges that she was subjected to abuse by a teacher. The District has no record of any notice of a possible abuse allegation from that time.

The teacher to which these allegations are made is on leave from the District. The District recognizes that the allegations set forth in the complaint touch upon sensitive subjects for all involved, as well as the community. The District has legal counsel on this matter and is unable to offer any further comment on the complaint or the specific allegations contained in the lawsuit at this time.

Regardless of how this matter from years ago proceeds through the litigation process, the District remains committed to providing a safe and positive educational experience for all students.

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