April 9, 2005 in City

Teacher charged with 3 felonies

By The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Sayeed X
(Full-size photo)

Sayeed X, the Ferris High School teacher who resigned Feb. 7 under accusations of having sexual contact with a student, was charged Friday and booked into Spokane County Jail on three felony charges, including first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor.

The other charges are second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Deputy Police Chief Al Odenthal said he couldn’t venture a guess as to the range of penalties involved. He added that at a minimum, a felony conviction requires at least a year in jail.

X, 34, whose original name was Jason Steele, graduated from Eastern Washington University, and student-taught at Shadle Park High School. He had worked at many Spokane Public School institutions and was hired for his first full-year contract at Ferris in the fall. He worked at Ferris regularly last school year, when the alleged misconduct occurred.

X resigned on Feb. 7, under the condition that his salary continue until his contract ends Aug. 31. He agreed not to pursue claims against the district.

X declined to be interviewed Friday.

Spokane Public Schools said in a news release Friday that the state Office of Professional Practices was still investigating X, a process that could revoke his teaching certificate.

“The district has cooperated fully with the Spokane Police Department in their criminal investigation which resulted in the charges filed against Mr. X,” according to the release.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Barb Wright said school officials would comment no further.

According to the affidavit of facts, X was interviewed by a detective from the police department’s sexual assault division on March 24, with his attorney, Keely Chapman, in the room.

According to the affidavit, X said he acknowledged writing six notes to the student and that he hugged and kissed her on the forehead and cheek. He acknowledged having a close relationship with her and talking to her about sex, sexual arousal, marriage and their future relationship together as husband and wife.

“He stated that the relationship with (the student) went too far and got out of hand,” according to the detective’s affidavit report.

The student’s story is more graphic and included an escalating sexual relationship that included multiple incidents of intercourse in various classrooms in the school. The relationship took place before spring break in 2004.

Odenthal said that the school and the victim’s parents have requested that police not reveal whether the girl is still enrolled at Ferris. She cooperated fully with police, he said.

“This is a young lady who, if she’s in the same school, this is going to be a tough time for her,” Odenthal said.

According to the affidavit, the student and her friends approached a teacher in January, providing the notes from X to the student. The teacher then took the notes to a vice principal. The next day Ferris Principal Erik Ohlund interviewed X in his office and X denied the allegations, according to the affidavit. X was placed on administrative leave that day.

Odenthal said at a press conference Friday that other allegations had come forward regarding beliefs or perceptions that X may have had inappropriate contact with other students. Those additional interviews made for a lengthy investigation, with between 20 to 50 people at Ferris and Spokane Public Schools administrative offices interviewed, Odenthal said.

“We did not identify any additional victims, at least that would constitute a crime under laws of the state of Washington, at least at this time,” Odenthal said.

When asked if he anticipated further investigation into other potential victims, Odenthal said, “If more information comes to our attention that would indicate that we have some more interviews, we’ll certainly pursue those.”


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