For Immediate Release
September 20, 2010

For More Information:
Michael Beaty (360) 695-7909
Kelly Clark (503) 306-0224

Vancouver, Wash—Two adults today filed suit in Clark County Superior Court against the La Center School District for childhood sexual abuse they suffered as second-graders at the hands of their teacher, Robert David Ryan, in the early 1980’s.  The suit contends that the District was negligent in its supervision of Ryan at Mary Gabrielson Elementary School and because of the school district’s negligence, the plaintiffs suffered severe and permanent mental, emotional and psychological damage. The teacher would routinely fondle students under the pretext of having them sit on his lap, or sit next to him, while he ostensibly gave instruction, according to the lawyers for the victims, Vancouver attorney Michael Beaty and Portland attorney Kelly Clark. 

The second grade teacher had worked for the school district for about 10 years prior to his arrest. He was charged with the sexual abuse of 14 of his students between the ages of seven and nine years old. The teacher plead guilty to two counts of “Indecent Liberties” on June 2, 1983 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and an additional 10 years of probation. According to court records, the teacher later admitted to abusing about 25 students and that he had not “expressed in any guilt or remorse for his actions.” The teacher’s last known address was in Missouri.

The plaintiffs, now in their 30’s, are both Washington residents, though one is currently working out of state. “We see the way in which a child abuser can use his authority and position to manipulate and abuse children, especially when those who are supposed to be supervising him are not doing their job,” said Beaty, a Vancouver trial attorney who has previously represented hundreds of personal injury victims.

“This teacher was audacious—covertly abusing kids in the presence of other kids, and in plain view of other teachers and staff,” said Clark, who frequently represents victims of child sexual abuse.  “This administration clearly was not paying attention to the rumors and warning signs.”

According to the attorneys, both adults have had significant consequences from their childhood abuse:  trauma, early onset alcohol and drug abuse, chronic anxiety, long-term depression and repeated failures in relationships.  “They are just starting to deal with the impact that the abuse is having on their lives,” said Beaty.  “They know they are in for a long road.”

 “What these two have suffered are the signature symptoms of the crime of abuse,” said Clark, who regularly represents child abuse victims in cases against churches, schools, and other youth organizations, including the Boy Scouts—against whom he won a $20M verdict in May of this year in a Portland trial.  “When this kind of thing happens to a 7 year- old, it is like vandalism to the soul, and it takes decades to recognize and repair the wreckage.

Under Washington law, a lawsuit does not state the amount of money sought, and the suit says only that the plaintiffs “seek damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”  According to Beaty, the case should come to trial in about a year.

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Read the Official Complaint Here.