June 21, 2013 in City

Accused teacher continues to be paid

District has been investigating rape allegations more than a year
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane Public Schools teacher who was investigated by police for multiple counts of child rape has been paid nearly $87,000 on administrative leave while the district conducts its own investigation.

A Spokane police detective found enough evidence to support six counts of first-degree child rape against teacher Chris Katke, but the statute of limitations had expired and no charges were filed.

Katke was placed on paid leave in January 2012 after district officials learned of the investigation by Spokane police. According to the police report, the alleged incidents took place in the 1990s and involved two female cousins who were juveniles at the time.

Katke denies the allegations.

The Spokesman-Review’s policy is to protect the identities of victims of sex crimes. In this case, the cousin who police say suffered the worst abuse chose to be identified and was quoted in an earlier newspaper story.The Glover Middle School teacher was told to not report for work last year while the district investigated a “complaint of misconduct.” His only requirement since then: “be available for meetings related to due process” for that investigation, district officials said.

The district would not elaborate on the scope of its ongoing investigation. An outside investigator is assigned to the case, said Tennille Jeffries-Simmons, Spokane Public Schools human resources director.

The reason the inquiry is taking so long is because the people involved in the case are located in other states, she said. According to police records, the female cousins live in Oregon and Florida.

“Because of the nature of the allegations, we really want to do a thorough job of investigating,” Jeffries-Simmons said. “It’s not just tracking the person down; it’s making sure they’ll cooperate in the investigation.”

The younger of the two cousins told Spokane police Katke victimized her between the ages of 4 and 11. He would have been 13 to 20 years old at the time. According to police, Katke reportedly performed oral sex on the younger cousin and instructed her to do the same to him, telling her it was a game. He also would ask her to re-enact love scenes from movies or television or mimic what people were doing in a pornographic magazine, the report said.

Attorney Tyler Hinckley, who is representing Katke in a public records case to prevent the release of the district’s internal investigation, says his client adamantly denies any inappropriate behavior with his cousins.

Katke said in a statement through his attorney, “The allegation the school district is investigating does not have anything to do with something that happened at school or any student. It’s based on fabricated allegations of conduct that’s alleged to have happened when I was a teenager.”

Erica Hallock, the district’s spokeswoman, said Spokane Public Schools has an obligation to investigate criminal matters that occur outside the workplace as well as those involving students.

“It is complicated in that there are different standards and burdens of proof for both the criminal and employment areas,” Hallock said. “Any criminal investigative information will inform our employment investigation, but the end result may differ.”

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