A Franklin Pierce High School teacher faces multiple criminal charges of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
Allegations against Ronald Keith Driscoll Jr., 49, of Tacoma originally surfaced last fall after a 15-year-old student accused him of inappropriately touching her. He was charged with two crimes in December. He’s been on paid leave since October.
This week, Pierce County prosecutors filed additional charges alleging similar behavior involving a second student. Driscoll was charged with two more counts of fourth-degree assault and one more count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
Driscoll, who started at Franklin Pierce in August 2009, has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which are misdemeanors.
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His attorney declined comment this week.
As a resource room teacher, Driscoll primarily taught subjects such as basic English and reading to special-education students.
A court document filed in December regarding the initial allegations claim that Driscoll obtained a photograph of the 15-year-old from her relative’s Facebook page and posted the picture on his phone. The victim also said he asked to hug her and cupped her buttocks with his hand. Driscoll denied that, according to the document.
The alleged victim also said her teacher gave her photos of himself. He said they were intended for the victim’s mother, who had “shown an interest in him,” the document states. But the mother told officials that was untrue.
The 15-year-old transferred to another high school, where she met a girl who claimed that Driscoll had engaged in similar behavior with her, court records say. The second girl told investigators she had gone to Franklin Pierce High School with the 15-year-old, but had not been friends with her.
Court records say the second girl alleged Driscoll had touched her buttocks, smacked her there repeatedly with a yardstick and made several sexual comments, including that he would give her better grades if she wore low-cut shirts and short skirts.
Franklin Pierce School District spokesman Willie Painter said personnel records show Driscoll previously was employed by a school district in Texas, and before that he worked for the Clover Park School District in Lakewood for two years.
Painter said there were no records of past misconduct by Driscoll in district files.
Driscoll was placed on paid administrative leave the same day the first allegations surfaced in October. So far, he has earned a little over $18,000 while on leave. Painter said the school district is bound by both law and contract to continue a teacher’s pay unless the teacher resigns or the district takes disciplinary action.
“The district will be evaluating its options in light of the criminal process as it progresses, but that process is in its early stages,” Painter said.
He said that while Driscoll is on leave, he is not allowed on school district property or at district events.
District Court Judge Karla Buttorff ordered him to have no contact with either alleged victim or with the school. Buttorff set Driscoll’s bail at $5,000, which was posted through a bail bond agency.