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Kennewick students suing school district over alleged molestation

Jury selection started Monday in a civil trial involving three men who claim the Kennewick School District failed to protect them from being sexually abused by a teacher and coach.

This is the first of four trials in Benton County Superior Court for 15 men who sued the district in 2014.

The plaintiffs – who range in age from mid- to late-20s to about 48 – say administrators and teachers were aware of William B. Pickerel’s out-of-town sport trips with male students, but never stopped them. The outings, often to Seattle for sporting events, were not sanctioned by the school.

Pickerel, now 81, pleaded guilty in King County in 2008 to molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor for molesting five Tri-City boys. He is out of prison after serving 5 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence.

Pickerel is not named in the lawsuit. He taught in Kennewick for nearly 38 years.

Of the 77 jurors who responded Monday, only three were dismissed by the court. Jury selection resumes today . The trial is expected to last three weeks.