Will Kennewick Jury Award Millions to Victims of Molester Teacher?
William “Bill” Pickerel was arrested back in 2007 and pleaded guilty to to abusing 5 boys while on school trips to Seattle. Now 15 past students have come forward in a civil suit case against the Kennewick School District for failing to protect them.
The cases were split into 4 different trials with the first trial ending in a settlement and the details kept secret from the public. The second trial has just finished and the jury is now deciding if the district is at fault and if victims should be awarded or how much they are awarded. The lawyer for the abused kids is asking for 1 million for each victim.
There are many details in the case, but they tried to show the district did not act on the obvious signs of abuse by Pickerel and show that the abuse had a lasting effect on the victims. The case points one example of a mother reporting in the 90's that her son said he had slept in the same bed with Pickerel on one of the overnight trips. After it was reported to the school, the Principle only talked to Pickerel briefly and no further action was taken, according to reports. The principle did not talk to other teens, teachers, did not put him on probation, or demand that he stopped taking kids on overnight trips.
The lawyer for the victims also tried to show that some school staffers were aware of the rumors of Pickerel sharing a bed with students and that they also took no action.
On the side of the district, one expert in child abuse, Sherryll Kraizer, did testify that after studying the case, Pickerel was not your typical abuser. She went on to say if she were working in the same school, she would not have identified Pickerel as an abuser. The defense says that in the instance with the mothers phone call in the 90's, the district asked if it was a police matter and the mother just wanted them to talk to the teacher. They say the victims did not speak up until years later and that teachers did not know of the abuse so how should they have known.
The case is now in the jury's hands.
Two more trials for the other victims are planned but not yet scheduled. Pickerel served over half of his 10 year sentence and was released in 2014. He lives in Seattle as a registered sex offender.