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March 21, 2023

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Battle Ground Public Schools sued in sex abuse case

Former Captain Strong student alleges she was abused by teacher

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A woman who attended Captain Strong Primary School from 2001 to 2002 is suing Battle Ground Public Schools, alleging she was groomed and sexually abused by a teacher there. That same teacher was later convicted of sex crimes.

The complaint filed Jan. 4 in Clark County Superior Court identifies the woman by the initials C.A. She attended Captain Strong as a fifth-grader before moving and changing schools, according to the court document.

Her teacher, Thomas Henry Moody, was convicted in 2005 in Clark County Superior Court of six counts of communicating with minors for immoral purposes and received a six-month jail sentence. There were multiple identified victims in the criminal case. He was again sentenced, this time to 17 months in prison, in December 2007 for possessing child pornography while on probation, according to Columbian archives. The abuse spanned from 1997 to 2004.

Moody worked for the Battle Ground school district from 1976 until his conviction in 2005.

The sexual abuse, the district’s handling of the investigation, and resulting court cases prompted the school board to address the situation in 2008, according to Columbian archives.

C.A.’s complaint alleges that the district was “grossly negligent in the supervision, control, protection and care of the students, including plaintiff, entrusted to it.”

A spokeswoman for Battle Ground Public Schools said the district can’t comment on legal matters.

“The case is being handled by Clear Risk, the third-party administrator for the district’s schools insurance association,” district spokeswoman Rita Sanders said in an email Tuesday.

C.A.’s complaint says Moody repeatedly inappropriately touched her over her clothing. She also saw Moody engaging in similar behavior with other female students, according to the complaint.

“Often this abuse occurred in front of the class, by his desk, in view of other students, on school premises,” the complaint reads.

In 1998, when Moody was employed as a fourth-grade teacher at Maple Grove Elementary School, at least three students reported to a school official that he touched them inappropriately. In response to the allegations, Moody was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, the complaint states.

The complaint alleges the school district never reported the allegations to police or Child Protective Services. Moody was later reinstated and was transferred around 2000 to Captain Strong.

C.A.’s complaint refers to a federal lawsuit filed in 2006 by another student, E.W., who was also abused by Moody, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. According to C.A.’s complaint, in spring 2002, several girls reported to another fifth-grade teacher that Moody was sexually abusing E.W.

According to Columbian archives, when the abuse occurred, the principal asked Moody to apologize to E.W., but the district didn’t formally reprimand him or report it to police. Moody continued to abuse the girl. The district settled the civil lawsuit with the girl’s family in January 2008 for $91,000.

C.A., who is being represented by Portland-based Dumas & Vaughn, has requested a jury trial, unspecified damages and other costs.