EDITOR’S NOTE – This story includes details about sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.
A 72-year-old Kent School District substitute teacher faces a first-degree child molestation charge for allegedly having sexual contact with a 6-year-old girl in a Emerald Park Elementary kindergarten class.
John Deveiteo, of Kent, has worked as a substitute teacher at multiple schools in the district since February 2018, according to charging documents filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court. Deveiteo is scheduled to be arraigned on July 3 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.
The alleged incident occurred on June 4 in a classroom when the rest of the students were released for recess, according to court documents. The student asked Deveiteo, known as Mr. D, if he needed help with anything. Deveiteo told the girl she could stay and help him.
Deveiteo reportedly put a cartoon on his laptop and had the girl sit on his lap to watch it. Deveiteo then allegedly had his arms around her and put his hand inside the front of her pants.
The father of the girl called called 911 on June 4 to report a sexual assault earlier in the day at the school. The girl told her parents what happened after they had asked about her day at school, according to charging papers.
After hearing about how the teacher had his daughter sit on his lap watching a cartoon while other kids were at recess, the father asked his daughter questions about the difference between a “good touch and bad touch.” She replied a touch on a shoulder was a good touch but that a touch of her privacy area was a bad touch. She told her father when the teacher touched her privacy area, she yelled, “stop,” and he stopped.
A child interview specialist with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office talked to the girl a day after the incident. The girl told the specialist that “Mr. D did something bad like a bad touch.” She then described in detail how the teacher touched her private body part. She said she had him as a teacher on other days as well.
The regular teacher of the class told detectives she had used Deveiteo as a sub in the past and had no problems with him. The teacher left a lesson plan for the sub to follow as well as a district laptop.
School district Information Technology staff examined the district computer used by Deveiteo in the classroom and found YouTube videos consistent with those described by the student and had been viewed at the alleged time of the incident. The girl described the cartoon as a bug that was chained up and broke out and that there was a mean guy with a gun.
Kent Police contacted Deveiteo. He declined to speak with the investigating detective on the advice of his attorney, according to charging papers.
Prosecutors filed the charge directly because of the evidence, so Deveiteo was not arrested or booked into custody, according to a King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson. Deveiteo is notified of the charge and arraignment date by mail. If he does not show up in court, a bench warrant will be issued for his arrest.
Prosecutors will request a bail of $75,000, according to charging papers.
“The defendant held a position of trust and authority over the victim, who was a kindergartner in the class he was substitute teaching,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Charles K. Sergis. “The defendant violated that trust. He presents a danger to children, and should be required to post significant bail.”
The state also will request an order prohibiting contact with all minors.
The Kent School District sent out a letter Wednesday to parents of students that it recently “received and responded to allegations of inappropriate behavior by a guest teacher at an elementary school in our district. Per our policy, the guest teacher was immediately removed from substitute availability with no further access to students.”
The letter also stated:
“For the safety and well-being of those involved, it is also wise for us to refrain from speculation. Please know we have taken appropriate steps necessary to ensure student safety and to honor the privacy rights of those involved and impacted by this situation.
“We know that each child is valued in our school community and we work hard to keep them safe. If that message is our focus as we approach this situation, we will all be a part of serving the needs of our children and students through this sensitive time.”
District officials ran a background check on Deveiteo, as it does with all prospective employees, according to a phone interview with a district spokesperson. That includes a criminal history records check, including a fingerprint check by the Washington State Patrol and if applicable, the FBI, according to district policy.
When asked which other schools Deveiteo worked at and whether he taught elsewhere before Kent hired him, the district spokesperson said she couldn’t answer those questions.
“We are not allowed to disclose that due to privacy concerns,” she said.