A 60-year-old man, who worked as a contracted speech language pathologist/child psychologist in the Kent School District, faces a second-degree rape of a child charge for an alleged assault of a 13-year-old boy at a Aberdeen motel.
Robert Wayne Wright, of Mountlake Terrace, was charged this week in Grays Harbor County Superior Court, according to the Grays Harbor County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He was arrested July 12 by Hoquiam Police.
“Officers learned the boy had been communicating over social media with a 60-year-old man from Mountlake Terrace,” said Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers, according to an article on The Daily World website in Aberdeen. “The man drove to Hoquiam after the victim claimed to be 18, not 13 years old, over social media messaging. When the two actually met, apparently neither appeared to be the person they portrayed over social media. The suspect drove the 13-year-old boy to a motel in Aberdeen where he was sexually assaulted before being returned and dropped off in Hoquiam.”
Wright was released July 16 from the Grays Harbor County Jail, according to jail records. He posted bond on $100,000 bail. He is expected to return to court on Monday to enter a plea.
The Kent School District posted the following message on its website:
“Recently, we received notification from law enforcement regarding a person who was arrested and charged in Grays Harbor County on July 12, 2019. This person has served as an agency employee in our district and was recently hired on June 12, 2019 for the upcoming school year as a psychologist. Based on information about this individual, Kent School District (KSD) is taking immediate steps to terminate this employee and has taken steps to restrict all access of this individual to KSD campuses, staff, and students.
“This is an ongoing legal process and we cannot comment on the specifics of the case. Please know we have taken appropriate steps necessary to ensure student safety and to honor the privacy rights of those who may be impacted by this situation.
“The safety of every child in our district is our number one priority. We will continue working in cooperation with law enforcement, and with our principals, staff and families to provide information and support as needed.”
A school district spokesperson declined to answer questions from the Kent Reporter about how long Wright worked as a contract employee in Kent or the schools where he was employed.
According to The Daily World, police were called on the evening of July 11 when the victim’s foster parent grew concerned when the boy had stayed out longer than anticipated, Myers said. The foster parent searched for the victim and found the boy leaving a vehicle in the north end of Hoquiam.
“Thankfully, the foster parent had the wherewithal to take a cellular photo of the vehicle and license plate,” Myers said.
After the foster parent notified authorities, the child was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia for a sexual assault examination.
“Early the next morning, detectives drove to the motel in Aberdeen on the chance the suspect was still there,” Myers said. “Detectives found the suspect’s vehicle, as photographed by the foster parent, parked in the motel lot. Aberdeen officers responded to the motel to assist the Hoquiam detectives and officers; the suspect was located and taken into custody.”
Wright was taken to the Hoquiam City Jail and interviewed by detectives. Wright claimed the victim told him he was 18 years old, but suspected the victim was perhaps younger, such as 16 or 17 years old, Myers said, according to The Daily World. Under Washington state law, the basic legal age of sexual consent is 16.
After securing a search warrant, the motel room was processed for evidence by detectives; the suspect’s vehicle was impounded for evidence and transported to the Hoquiam Police Department for a subsequent search warrant.
“Evidence recovered at this point in the investigation suggests the suspect drove to Hoquiam specifically to meet with the victim for sex,” said Myers in his statement. “Detectives were not convinced the suspect believed the victim was actually over the age of 18, especially after learning the suspect has education as a child psychologist. It appears he was last employed by a medical provider as a contracted speech language pathologist/child psychologist within a school district in King County.”
The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has been notified given the suspect’s employment within a public school, Myers said.
Myers said many sexual assaults are never reported and it is critical to empower victims to report abuses to law enforcement for criminal investigation. If there are additional allegations, victims are encouraged to call the local law enforcement agency where the offense occurred.