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Saturday, December 3, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teacher sentenced for molesting

Seattle Times staff reporter

A King County Superior Court judge denied a plea for mercy from an admitted child molester and instead sentenced the former Seattle elementary-school teacher to more than five years in prison.

In imposing the prosecutor's recommended open-ended sentence of five years to life, Judge Douglas McBroom said that he believed Laurence E. "Shayne" Hill, 55, took advantage of his authority numerous times over many years and that the need for punishment outweighed that of rehabilitation in this case.

"You violated trust not just momentarily, but over a long period of time," McBroom said to Hill.

Hill, who taught at Seattle schools for more than three decades, was accused in May of inappropriately touching a number of female students over the years.

He pleaded guilty as charged in November to one count of first-degree molestation, one count of second-degree molestation and two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Police and prosecutors said the investigation into Hill began in April when the mother of one of the victims walked into Hill's classroom at Broadview-Thomson Elementary School to deliver lunch to her then-11-year-old daughter. She saw Hill sitting extremely close to her daughter, and he had his hand on the girl's buttocks, according to charging documents. The mother reported the incident to the principal.

According to charging papers, Hill had previously been counseled by at least three school administrators or principals for inappropriately touching students.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of two of the victims accuses the Seattle School District and one former principal of ignoring complaints from other teachers, school employees and other administrators about Hill's bizarre behavior. Police said a total of seven girls told detectives that Hill had touched or kissed them. The lawsuit also claims that Hill kept a rubber breast and phallus in his desk drawer and that he groomed the primary victim with gifts and letters before sexually assaulting her for two years, beginning in 2001.

The abuse continued after the girl graduated to middle school, and was public enough that other students considered Hill a "child molester," according to the lawsuit.

The school district could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon, but spokesman Peter Daniels has previously said that Hill resigned before the district could complete its investigation and that the district had notified the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the charges against Hill in case he had applied to teach elsewhere.

During the sentencing hearing Friday, Hill said he was remorseful and pleaded for a chance to attend a sex-offender treatment program that would have yielded less time behind bars.

"I will go to my grave and beyond grieving the harm I have done," he said.

His attorney, Kevin Peck, said Hill had achieved 16 years of sobriety through the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program, was a good candidate for rehabilitation and had already lost his career, his reputation and his standing.

The hearing was attended by several of Hill's friends and supporters from AA, as well as several former students who said his actions had sharply divided their classmates' loyalties and they had hoped to see him receive a long sentence.

"I think he should have gotten more time," said 14-year-old Carly Hosford-Israel, a former student who spoke after the hearing. "What he did affects everyone. He deserves a lot more time than they could have given him."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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