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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stevens County teacher charged with rape of teen

A Stevens County high school teacher and boys’ basketball coach was arrested Friday amid allegations he had sex with a female student.

Robert M. Swalstad, a teacher at Columbia High School in Hunters, Wash., made his first appearance in Stevens County District Court in Colville Monday on charges of third-degree rape of a child, said Stevens County Prosecutor Jerry Wetle.

The victim is between the ages of 14 and 15 years old, Wetle said.

Swalstad, 30, was released without bond by Stevens County Court Commissioner Andrew Braff.

Braff ordered Swalstad to stay 25 miles away from the town of Hunters, located just west of the Spokane Indian Reservation. Swalstad is also not to have contact with the victim or any witnesses in the case, or any women under 21 years old.

Swalstad was put on paid administrative leave March 25 from the small rural school district, which houses about 220 students in grades K-12.

Police were notified and an investigation began at that time, said Columbia School District Superintendent Paul Turner.

Turner declined to comment on the specific allegations against Swalstad, but did acknowledge that the girl was a student of the district.

He did not know if the matter would also be turned over to the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the agency responsible for issuing teaching certificates.

“That will be determined by a personnel investigation,” Turner said.

Swalstad teaches history, current world affairs, and some physical education classes at the school. He is also the head boys’ basketball coach.

A call to Swalstad’s home in Hunters went unanswered Monday.

Wetle said Swalstad will likely be living with his parents in Wyoming. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 14 in Colville.

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