The former principal of St. Patrick’s Elementary is scheduled to go to trial this month on charges of molesting an eighth-grade student while watching a movie at the administrator’s apartment.
Donald Andrews, 39, was fired in late March after Spokane’s Catholic Diocese heard he improperly touched the boy, then 13 years old. Andrews had been principal for three years.
He pleaded innocent to the charge of second-degree child molestation, said his lawyer, Mark Vovos.
Although the trial has been scheduled for June 26, that date will probably be pushed back to the fall, Vovos said. He declined to comment further. Efforts to reach Andrews Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Police asked prosecutors to charge Andrews after the boy’s family complained he improperly touched the boy the weekend of Feb. 19.
That day, the boy and a friend spent the night at Andrews’ house, according to court records. The friend played computer games. The boy and Andrews watched “The Mask” in the living room. While watching the movie, Andrews allegedly put his arm around the boy’s shoulder and a little later, fondled the boy.
The boy then ran to the bathroom, shutting the door, according to records. Andrews repeatedly apologized.
The boy told police that he didn’t tell anyone about the night because Andrews was always nice to him. The boy said Andrews gave him candy during school, lent him a St. Patrick’s sweatshirt, and took him to eat, play games and work out.
Another student told police he also spent the night at Andrews’ apartment. The boy said Andrews wanted to sleep on the floor in the same bedroom, although the apartment had two bedrooms.
The boy also told police that Andrews talked to him about masturbation.
While at St. Patrick’s, Andrews taught literature to seventh- and eighth-graders chosen by him. He studied from 1984 to 1987 at Gonzaga University and earned two master’s degrees. He returned to Gonzaga in 1990 to work on a doctorate in education, during which time he was hired by St. Patrick’s.
Diocese officials reacted quickly to the concerns of the boy’s family, first suspending Andrews from his job and then firing him.
“The Diocesan level is to be very up-front and honest,” said the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish. “Then you can move on to healing. That’s a big part of healing, is being honest.”
Since the firing, the school has worked to recover from the matter.
Counselors from Gonzaga Prep have talked to students and parents. The school has held three meetings with parents, answering questions and informing them about what happened.
The school’s 166 students are coping well, administrators said.
“One thing about most children, in a situation such as this, it’s just a matter of being able to speak their feelings and thoughts and having someone listen,” said Weitensteiner, also executive director of Morning Star Boy’s Ranch. “Kids are marvelous. They just move on to new things. They don’t forget, but they move on. The school has moved on.”
Joanne Duffy, an assistant principal at St. Aloysius School for three years, will start as St. Patrick’s principal in the fall.
Duffy, who started teaching in 1972, taught for 12 years in New York. She also was a social studies department chair and a vice principal at Stamford Catholic High School in Stamford, Conn.
Duffy moved to Spokane in 1990.
Since being hired, Duffy has met with a number of concerned parents and attended several meetings.
“The children seem to be doing fine,” Duffy said. “I’ve spoken with many of them. They seem to be excited about next year. The healing process is really coming along.”