MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Police have arrested a Mountlake Terrace Elementary School teacher who allegedly molested two of his students.
The boys, ages 9 and 10, told detectives their fourth-grade teacher had inappropriately touched them, Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Scott Smith said.
The alleged touching “was sexual in nature,” Smith said.
Detectives suspect the molestation occurred during class, and that the teacher may also have touched other students.
School principal Jackie Tanner sent a letter home to parents Feb. 3 telling them about the investigation.
She learned of the accusations from one of the boy’s parents Jan. 20 and called police. The teacher was placed on paid administrative leave the same day.
Interviews with the boys revealed information that led detectives and a child interview specialist to believe that the allegations were credible, Smith said.
Officers arrested the teacher, 49, at his home Feb. 3 on suspicion of first-degree child molestation. He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail, where he posted bail and was released the same night. The man could not be reached for comment. The Herald and The Enterprise generally don’t print the names of crime suspects until they have been formally charged.
The teacher was convicted of public indecency in November 2001, four months after he was hired by the elementary school. His arrest came in October 2001 after he solicited an undercover Lynnwood policeman for sex in Scriber Lake Park.
He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, court records show.
School district officials say they were unaware of the man’s conviction. Police did not notify the district because the misdemeanor crime did not involve a child.
“That doesn’t lessen the fact it was inappropriate conduct for an individual who was supposed to be setting an example for children in his classroom,” Edmonds School District spokeswoman Debbie Jakala said.
Had the district known, it would have investigated and taken action, she said.
“We are now aware of it and are factoring it into our decision-making,” Jakala said. “We are not taking this lightly.”
Before he was hired in Mountlake Terrace, the teacher taught music at Kellogg Marsh Elementary School in Marysville from October 2000 through June 2001.
He passed a criminal background check by the Marysville School District, Jakala said. The man received his teaching certification from the state in 1977.
He taught about 25 students in Mountlake Terrace. A long-term substitute took over the class Jan. 20. The school has 347 students from kindergarten through sixth grade.
Detectives working on the investigation expect to refer the case to the prosecutor’s office in about two weeks, unless more students come forward, Smith said.
Katherine Schiffner is a reporter for the Herald in Everett. Herald reporter Eric Stevick contributed to this article.