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Thursday, May 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Acquitted Teacher Quits Prior To Dismissal Hearing

Former Canfield Middle School teacher Paul Mather won’t face the dismissal hearing that was scheduled for Monday.

But he may lose his teaching certificate.

Mather resigned, and the Coeur d’Alene School District announced Saturday it will pay him an undisclosed sum of cash in place of his contract.

The 49-year-old was suspended with pay since last June. Five students - girls aged 13 through 15 - had accused him of fondling their breasts and buttocks. A jury found him innocent of criminal charges in January.

The district will now send a letter to the state Professional Standards Commission, school district attorney Charles Dodson said Saturday. The commission will then likely revoke Mather’s teaching certificate, a decision that Mather could appeal, Dodson said.

Dodson said he didn’t know the amount of money Mather would be paid, but it will be equivalent to his salary and benefits. “They have great benefits packages,” Dodson said.

When girls first reported the alleged fondling, they just wanted Mather to stop, they said. They never intended it to become a full-blown court case.

But once the allegations surfaced, they tore the school in half.

Some teachers and students sided with Mather, a well-liked geography teacher. The girls said they were called liars and harassed. Others called them heroes.

The case found its way from the classroom to the courtroom, resulting in an acquittal for Mather. Jurors said they believed the girls’ claims, but couldn’t convict the teacher of a crime because the girls never told him to stop, jury foreman Richard See said.

Parents were outraged. One filed a civil suit against the district, saying Mather should have been removed earlier - after a 16-year-old girl Mather had met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting claimed the teacher had sex with her.

According to police reports, Mather was investigated in 1989 because of the claim. Mather’s wife told police he admitted the relationship to her.

A school attorney looked into the case, but Mather kept his job. The teen decided not to press charges.

, DataTimes

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