A Tacoma man faces three counts of second-degree rape of a child charges for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a then-13-year-old student in his Totem Middle School classroom where he worked as a math teacher.
Totem, 26630 40th Ave. S., is located on the West Hill of Kent but is part of Federal Way Public Schools.
Glenfield Arthur Watkins, 61, is accused of having sex with the girl at least three times between Sept. 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016, when he was 55 years old, according to charging papers filed July 1 by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Watkins, during an interview with a Kent Police detective, denied he had sexual intercourse with the student.
“The victim estimates she engaged in oral sexual intercourse around 20 times in his classroom, behind a locked door, with his window shade pulled down,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Celia Lee in charging papers.
The girl revealed the sexual relationship to a Communities in School mentor during a meeting in April by video due to COVID-19 stay home restrictions. The student has met with the mentor for one hour a day once a week since the eighth grade. The mentor reported the disclosure to her boss who in turn reported it to Federal Way Public Schools administration.
“The district immediately contacted the police and Child Protective Services and placed the employee on leave while police conducted their investigation,” said Kassie Swenson, spokeswoman for Federal Way Public Schools, in a July 2 email. “King County prosecutors recently notified the district that charges have been filed against the Totem staff member related to sexual misconduct with a student.”
Federal Way Public Schools emailed a letter July 2 to Totem staff and parents about the charges.
“We take allegations like these very seriously,” Swenson said. “The district took immediate action steps and are cooperating with law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation. The student who reported the allegations was connected with support resources.”
Swenson said the district’s hiring process requires every employee complete and pass a FBI and Washington State Patrol fingerprint and background check. All staff are required to take harassment, intimidation and bullying training annually, and every year the district trains employees about appropriate staff and student boundaries.
“Student safety is and always will be our number one priority,” Swenson said. “We take every precaution possible to secure the safety of our students.”
Police obtained text messages that Watkins reportedly sent the student in which he references “wanting” the child at the beginning and end of each day. The phone number associated with those text messages is the same one the detective used to contact Watkins.
“The defendant grossly abused his position of trust and authority as a teacher and trusted adult by sexually assaulting this child repeatedly in his classroom when she was in middle school,” Lee wrote in charging documents.
Police determined through school records that Watkins was the student’s math teacher in the seventh and eighth grades.
When interviewed by a detective, Watkins denied he had sexual intercourse with the student. He said the girl asked him to tutor her in math in the eighth grade and that he did tutor her most days after school.
The girl told police the first person she told about the relationship with Watkins was her best friend. The friend submitted a statement to police saying that the girl had told her during an overnight field trip earlier in their senior year that she had sexual contact with the teacher when she attended Totem.
Prosecutors made an at-large filing against Watkins and asked a judge to issue a $100,000 warrant. Watkins is scheduled to be arraigned on July 9 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
Federal Way Public Schools asks that if anyone has any information that may be helpful to police, they should contact Detective Steve Kelly with the Kent Police Department at 253-856-5800.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct age for Watkins.