Former Prosser mayor wants to see daughter graduate

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldMay 27, 2014 

Former Prosser Mayor Linda Lusk enters Benton County Superior Court in May 2011 before pleading guilty to one count of third-degree child molestation. Lusk entered an Alford plea, which means she denied committing the crime, but believed prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her. Lusk was accused of exchanging sexually explicit text messages and having sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy.

Linda Lusk is taking the Prosser School District to court in an attempt to see her daughter graduate from high school next week.

Lusk, the former mayor of Prosser, was banned from all school district activities after pleading guilty in 2011 to third-degree child molestation for sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy.

The school district has a policy prohibiting registered sex offenders from stepping foot on district property or attending events.

Lusk, who is classified as a low-level sex offender, had an injunction filed on her behalf last week asking a judge to allow her to attend the graduation. A previous request to Superintendent Ray Tolcacher was denied, she said.

Lusk claims Tolcacher and the school board have denied her the right to be involved in her children's education. Her daughter and son attend Prosser High School.

"I just want to be a mom and be involved in my kid's life like any other parent is allowed to," Lusk told the Herald. "I believe Ray (Tolcacher) has an axe to grind over what he perceives as negative publicity. I have paid my debt and done everything the court has asked me to do. It feels like I am being recriminalized."

The school district is aware of the injunction and plans to take the matter to court, Tolcacher said. A hearing to decide the matter could happen as early as this week.

Tolcacher was adamant Tuesday that the district intends to enforce the policy and not let Lusk attend the graduation, he said. Any offender who violates the policy could be arrested for trespassing.

"We have a policy and we uphold the policy," he said. "The records shows we have followed our policy and we are consistent. We are not changing it."

Lusk has asked multiple times to attend school events and her requests have been denied every time, she said. She's willing to watch the graduation at Art Fiker Memorial Stadium from the press box or hire a security guard to stay with her.

The injunction, filed by Lusk's attorney, Greg Dow, contends the district's policy is unconstitutional and unfairly denies her access to school events, particularly a "significant social event" like graduation.

Lusk's daughter has suffered sleepless nights and depression due to the ban, and could suffer more emotional damage if her mother is not allowed to attend the graduation, court documents said.

Lusk's daughter is named as a plaintiff, partly because she doesn't want to see her younger brother have to suffer for the rest of high school, Dow said.

"I have already suffered immensely and I believe my suffering and loss will continue, and even increase with the absence of my mother at my graduation," the daughter said in court documents. "This is a big time in the life of an 18-year-old and I would love for my mother to be able to participate for the first time in two years."

The injunction also claims that Lusk has been unfairly singled out because she is well-known in the community and was involved in a high-profile case. Her story was profiled on ABC's 20/20 show and she was interviewed multiple times by the network.

Lusk accuses Win Taylor, the former Prosser police chief whom she fired, of leading the charge to keep her away from all district-related activities. Taylor previously sat on the school board and supported the no-trespass notice banning Lusk from district events, according to the injunction. He did not seek re-election last fall and William "Bill" Jenkin was voted onto the board.

Lusk told the Herald that Taylor is keeping her away from school events to get revenge for being fired.

Dow is confident Lusk will be allowed to attend the graduation because she poses no danger to students and she has a right to have access to her children's school events, he said.

Lusk will not attend the graduation and risk getting arrested if a judge rules in the district's favor, he said.

"Every single time she has requested access she has been denied," Dow said. "There is a state law that says every school board in the state has to have a policy granting parents visible access. The Prosser (trespass) policy prevents that access."

Lusk's ex-husband, Kevin, the principal at Prosser High, got in trouble in February of 2012 for reportedly driving Lusk to two school swim meets. He was suspended for a week after a Seattle law firm determined he was deceitful when questioned about her presence at the meets.

An investigation began after a parent reported she spotted Lusk at a swim meet in Ellensburg.

Parents also complained about Lusk attending a basketball banquet while she was awaiting trial on charges stemming from the sexual contact with the teen.

Lusk pleaded guilty to seven state probation violations in November of 2011 for attending school events without permission and failing to show up for a polygraph test, records show. She spent 11 days in jail and had to perform community service.

Lusk told the Herald the seven violations "didn't have much substance" and she only attended the one swim meet, an all-girls event, in Ellensburg.

Lusk completed her community supervision in August of 2012, she said.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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