HOQUIAM — A child psychologist from Mountlake Terrace has been arrested for investigation of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy at a motel in Aberdeen.
It appears Robert Wayne Wright, 60, was hired weeks ago as a psychologist in the Kent School District. A post titled, “Important Information,” on the district website says an employee had been arrested and charged in Grays Harbor County.
However, the communications department at the school district would not confirm if the post referred to Wright, and would not comment about whether the district was aware of past allegations involving the same employee.
Wright had been accused of sexually assaulting a young man, 18, on a camping trip in Snohomish County in 2007. Those charges were dropped months later, upon further investigation.
According to court papers from 2007, Wright told police he was “charged with a similar offense many years ago.”
Officers believe a boy from the Grays Harbor area was talking this month with the Mountlake Terrace man over social media, according to police.
“The man drove to Hoquiam after the victim claimed to be 18, not 13 years old, over social media messaging,” Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said, according to The Daily World newspaper. “When the two actually met, apparently neither appeared to be the person they portrayed over social media. The suspect drove the 13-year-old to a motel in Aberdeen where he was sexually assaulted before being returned and dropped off in Hoquiam.”
Police were called on the evening of July 11, when the victim’s foster parent grew concerned, because the boy stayed out longer than anticipated, Myers said. The foster parent searched for the victim and found the boy leaving a vehicle in north Hoquiam.
“Thankfully, the foster parent had the wherewithal to take a cellular photo of the vehicle and license plate,” Myers said.
After the foster parent notified authorities, the child was taken to an Olympia hospital for a sexual assault exam, Myers said.
“Early the next morning, detectives drove to the motel in Aberdeen on the chance the suspect was still there. Detectives found the suspect’s vehicle, as photographed by the foster parent, parked in the motel lot,” Myers said.
Wright was found and arrested at the motel.
Detectives interviewed the suspect at the Hoquiam City Jail. Wright claimed the victim told him he was 18, though he suspected the victim was perhaps younger, such as 16 or 17 years old, Myers said. Under state law, the age of sexual consent is 16. Wright was charged with second-degree rape of a child.
After securing a warrant, detectives searched the motel room for evidence. The suspect’s vehicle was impounded.
“Evidence recovered at this point in the investigation suggests the suspect drove to Hoquiam specifically to meet with the victim for sex,” Myers said. “Detectives were not convinced the suspect believed the victim was actually over the age of 18, especially after learning the suspect has education as a child psychologist. It appears he was last employed by a medical provider as a contracted speech language pathologist/child psychologist within a school district in King County.”
The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has been notified, given the suspect’s employment within a public school, Myers said.
Wright made his initial court appearance Monday and was ordered held on $100,000 bond, according to the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office. Wright posted bond Tuesday night. As part of his conditions of release, Wright is not allowed to have any contact with children.
Wright told the court he would be hiring his own attorney.
The post by the Kent School District did not mention what crime the employee had been accused of.
“This person has served as an agency employee in our district and was recently hired on June 12, 2019 for the upcoming school year as a psychologist. Based on information about this individual, Kent School District (KSD) is taking immediate steps to terminate this employee and has taken steps to restrict all access of this individual to KSD campuses, staff, and students,” the statement read.
“This is an ongoing legal process and we cannot comment on the specifics of the case. Please know we have taken appropriate steps necessary to ensure student safety and to honor the privacy rights of those who may be impacted by this situation.
“The safety of every child in our district is our number one priority. We will continue working in cooperation with law enforcement, and with our principals, staff and families to provide information and support as needed.”
A manager in the communications department at the Kent School District said the statement would be the only information released.
Investigative tips can be directed to Hoquiam detective David Peterson at 360-532-0892 extension 276, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Daily Herald reporter Caleb Hutton contributed to this report.
Much of this story originally appeared in The Daily World, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.