Former Washington state teacher allegedly avoided punishment for years of sexually abusive behavior

Mar 12, 2013 by

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Teacher sexual misconduct with students may be reaching epidemic proportions, and experts agree the problem is exacerbated by school administrators and union officials who sweep illegal activities under the rug.

A horrifying example of this type of cover-up may be coming to light in Spokane Valley, Washington.

A 15-year-old girl is suing the Central Valley School District, claiming former middle school teacher Anthony Cucinotti molested her when she was 11 and the school district failed to protect her, according to KXLY.com.

The girl’s attorney points to numerous documents in Cucinotti’s employment file that suggest he acted in a sexually inappropriate manner with female students for years, yet never faced any sort of serious repercussions.

Between 1994 and 2009 Cucinotti was accused of reading books with sexual content to students, displaying a female doll with its pants down, asking female students if they had been naughty and needed to be “spanked,” snapping a girl’s bra and looking down many girls’ shirts, the news report said.

In response to the last accusation, Cucinotti allegedly told school officials, “Girls who dress provocatively think provocatively.”

Despite the number of accusations against Cucinotti, the teacher was never “removed from a classroom, put on suspension or fired,” the news report said.

“They don’t do anything about it, and if they do something about it, they’re just slapping the hand, you know, and then letting the person go until next time,” Richard Eymann, the attorney for the plaintiff, told the news site.

“There were many years, many occasions where he was doing things which most people would say, ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”

A former student of Cucinotti told the news site she heard rumors about his activities and wasn’t surprised by the accusations. A fellow teacher, quoted in a school document, claimed he saw Cucinotti with a female student “halfway on his lap, whispering something.”

School district officials reportedly declined to comment on the situation.

“The school district should have noticed something a long time ago and they continued to let him have this kind of one-on-one contact with these girls and it’s really sad,” Eymann said.

EAGnews has learned of numerous instances in recent years when school and union officials conspired to cover up sexual wrongdoing on the part of staff members.

Sometimes the incidents are just ignored or covered up, which may very well be the case in Spokane Valley.

Other times officials react to such incidents by quietly negotiating a separation agreement, where the teacher gets a letter of recommendation, and sometimes a severance check, in exchange for a quiet resignation.

Sadly many of those teachers go on to molest children in other school districts.

Many school administrators, dealing with extremely tight budgets, feel pressured to take the easy way out due to union rules and state laws that make it very expensive to fire tenured teachers.

In most states it can take months or years, and cost six figures in legal fees, to complete the termination process.

Sometimes sexual misconduct goes unnoticed in schools because staff members are not trained to recognize the signs, according to experts. And many cases go unreported because other teachers and staff members are hesitant to turn in their colleagues, and victims are frequently afraid to turn in their teachers.

Experts also say the rise of modern communication options, including text messaging, Facebook and Twitter, have given perverted teachers more opportunities to isolate potential victims and seduce them without the knowledge of parents or school administrators.

EAGnews will publish a four-part series on this troubling topic – titled “Sextracurricular Activities” – beginning next Monday.

via Former Washington state teacher allegedly avoided punishment for years of sexually abusive behavior – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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