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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Editorial

Tardy efforts at troubling coaches

James Randy Deming recently had his teaching certificate revoked — a gesture startling for its tardiness.

It has been 2 ½ years since Deming, a formerly successful Blaine High School wrestling coach, was featured in the 2003 Seattle Times "Coaches Who Prey" series. The investigation found 98 Washington coaches who were fired or disciplined for sexual misconduct, yet permitted to continue to put other young people at risk. The series prompted the 2004 state Legislature to require school districts to disclose information about sexual-misconduct allegations and forbid the districts from entering into agreements to conceal such information — a practice that had been all too common.

In a case related to The Times' efforts, the state Court of Appeals also affirmed the right of the public to know who the bad actors are.

As for Deming, in May, after a dozen school reprimands and criminal charges, an administrative law judge revoked his teaching certificate. The Times obtained the 32-page ruling through a public-records request.

The report recounts troubling incidents that span Deming's career, starting in 1976 when he scared a 6-year-old girl so much she didn't want to go to gym class. In 1990, after a 10-year-old girl complained, he was charged with child molestation and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes — charges dismissed when he agreed to resign from the Blaine School District.

You would have thought he would have lost his certificate then.

Instead, he moved on to other schools. In 2003, he was acquitted of charges of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation for allegedly touching two of his eighth-grade students in the Mount Adams School District on the Yakama Indian Reservation.

In Deming's case, the wheels of justice have ground far too slowly.

The legislative changes help diminish the chances of a teacher with Deming's proclivities to be rushed quietly out the back door to prey on other children. The case should serve as an important reminder to parents, teachers and supervisors that they must be vigilant to guard young people against adults who would prey on them.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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