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Mead teacher under investigation over relationship with student

UPDATED: Mon., April 30, 2018, 6:10 p.m.

Mead High School (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Mead High School (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Deputies are investigating a Mead High School teacher after an anonymous letter sent to school officials alleged he had sex with a 17-year-old student.

The student denied any sexual relationship, however deputies filed a search warrant in Spokane County Superior Court to seize her phone and look at data such as texts and social media.

The search warrant states that Mead High School Principal John Naslund received a letter on April 18 detailing a flirtatious relationship between the teacher and a student.

The letter, sent in a sealed and stamped envelope with no return address, details an alleged relationship that began in the 2016-17 school year, when the teacher and student met at a leadership camp, according to the search warrant.

The two exchanged phone numbers and became “flirtatious” with each other before beginning a sexual relationship this school year, the letter alleges.

The author of the letter divulged other details, including seeing flirtatious text messages and seeing the two hanging out after school in the teacher’s classroom. It also describes how another teacher was concerned about the relationship and confronted the teacher.

“It is suspicious how much time they spend together,” the letter says, according to court documents.

The warrant, written by Detective Nathan Bohanek, goes on to say that Naslund reported the allegations to the state’s Child Protective Services unit, which in turn reported them to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Ralph Thayer, assistant superintendent of Mead School District, said administrators were taking the allegations seriously. He was not able to say whether the teacher has been suspended pending a criminal investigation.

Detectives interviewed the student last week. She acknowledged the two met at a camp and that she sought his assistance. She also told investigators that she and the teacher both lost family members recently and bonded over their losses.

The search warrant includes the student’s insistence that she did not have sexual contact with the teacher, did not communicate with him outside of school, and did not have his phone number.

Deputies also spoke with another teacher who said he was aware the two were “hanging out” in a classroom. The teacher told investigators he met with the suspect to express concern.

Bohanek wrote that he doesn’t think the student was “entirely forthcoming” about her relationship with the teacher. Court documents say he also believed the contents of the letter to be true “despite (the student’s) statements to the contrary.”

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