Four more join suit against La Center schools

Supervision of teacher who sexually abused students in ’80s at issue

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Four more plaintiffs have joined a lawsuit against the La Center School District, claiming the district was negligent in supervising a teacher who sexually abused them in the early 1980s.

In total, four women and two men, named in the suit only as either John Doe and Jane Doe, have sued the school district. They allege they were sexually abused by their second-grade teacher, Robert David Ryan, between Sept. 8, 1981, and April 5, 1983.

Ryan pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent liberties and was sentenced in 1983 to 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years’ probation.

The lawsuit was initially filed in September in Clark County Superior Court; the four others joined the suit last week.

The plaintiffs, through Vancouver attorney Michael Beaty and Portland attorney Kelly Clark, allege the school district failed to supervise Ryan, and as a result of its negligence, the plaintiffs suffer long-term “damages, including severe, disabling mental, emotional and physical injury,” according to the lawsuit.

Beaty said Ryan fondled the students when they sat on his lap or next to him in class as he was giving instruction.

Current Superintendent Mark Mansell said in September that he believes the school district in 1983 responded to the allegations swiftly, notifying law enforcement and requesting that Ryan’s teaching license be revoked.

A Seattle attorney for the school district, Michael Patterson, said Friday that his legal team is still in the process of collecting records from the 1980s. He said he’s trying to work out a timely resolution in the case.

When reached Friday afternoon by telephone, Ryan, who now lives in Missouri, declined comment. “I’ve already made my comments,” is all he said.

Beaty said in a news release that he expects the case to go to trial in about a year.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.