March 21, 2013 in City

Former teacher pleads not guilty in sexual misconduct case

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A former English teacher and girls’ track coach at Shadle Park High School pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of sexual misconduct with a former student.

Court documents filed on March 7 include allegations of sexual contact between 44-year-old Ryan M. Murphy and a female victim who was a minor at the time.

Spokane Police Department detectives believe Murphy used his position as a teacher to coax the student into an extensive sexual relationship, which began when she was 15 years old and he was 40, documents said.

Murphy was placed on administrative leave in early 2012 after Spokane Public Schools investigated complaints he behaved inappropriately with a student in February that year. The district allowed him to resign in August. He’s still under investigation by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

According to court documents, Murphy first expressed feelings toward the victim in 2009 and told her he was having family problems. Murphy tried to kiss her when they were alone in his Shadle classroom, the girl told detectives.

When the girl turned 16, Murphy began calling her and met her at a city park in the summer of 2010 and touched her inappropriately, court documents said.

When school started again, Murphy requested the student be transferred to his English class, according to the documents. Murphy began sending her hundreds of text messages every week.

The relationship escalated when he pressured the girl into consensual intercourse and sent her poems and letters, which are now aiding detectives with their investigation, according to the documents.

The girl did not report her interactions with Murphy until another student filed a complaint with Spokane Public Schools in February 2012.

The district’s investigation of Murphy concluded in March 2012, and the independent investigator determined Murphy violated district policy by invading student boundaries.

District documents detail numerous violations that include touching female students, sharing inappropriate and personal stories during class time, giving his personal cellphone number to a female student, posting photos of students to his Facebook page and telling a student she looked pretty.

The student in this case initially told the investigator Murphy was texting her inappropriately but did not report their sexual relationship because she did not want him to get in trouble and “have his life ruined,” court documents said.

The girl reported the entirety of the relationship after she learned Murphy was driving by her family’s home while she was on holiday break from college.

She also asked other teachers for help, court documents show, to make Murphy stop texting her. From October 2010 through February 2012, Murphy is alleged to have sent 19,973 text messages to the student, court documents said.

The state’s Office of Professional Practices has not made a decision on Murphy’s license to teach, but school district officials are aware of the office’s cooperation with Spokane police.

Murphy is living in the Spokane area and is no longer working in education, prosecutor Patrick Johnson said.

Because Murphy pleaded not guilty, the case is expected to go to trial in June at the earliest.

Because of Murphy’s lengthy history as a teacher, detectives are concerned there may be other victims and urge them to contact police at (509) 242-TIPS.

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