Former Prosser mayor banned from daughter's graduation

Tri-City HeraldMay 30, 2014 

— Linda Lusk, a low-level sex offender and former Prosser mayor, will not be allowed to attend her daughter's high-school graduation next Saturday.

A judge ruled Friday that Lusk missed a deadline to appeal the school district's decision banning her from district property and events.

The school district has a policy preventing all registered sex offenders from coming on district property or attending student activities.

Lusk, 53, pleaded guilty in 2011 to third-degree child molestation for having sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy. She is classified a Level 1 offender, considered the least likely to reoffend.

Lusk was issued an official no trespass order in August 2012. She had 30 days to appeal the decision or waive her right to challenge it in court.

In order to attend school events, Lusk has to get written permission from the superintendent. Her request to attend Prosser High School's graduation was denied in March.

Rocky Johnson, the district's attorney, told the judge that Lusk had ample time to appeal the ban. He said Lusk's timing was poor and she was creating a media frenzy by bringing the issue to court so close to graduation weekend.

"We fully believe the 30-day provision would apply and that Ms. Lusk did not exercise that right of appeal," Johnson said.

The hearing lasted less than a half hour in Benton County Superior Court. Neither Johnson nor Lusk's attorneys, Greg and Ben Dow, got to argue whether the district's policy was unfair and violated Lusk's constitutional rights.

The 30-day provision was the first issue considered by Judge Vic VanderSchoor, who ruled it was clear that Lusk waited too long.

Greg Dow told the Herald he knew the 30-day provision would be an obstacle but he was disappointed he didn't get the chance to argue about the policy.

The Dows argued the 30-day rule is only for decisions and orders, not policies.

VanderSchoor's ruling means it will be a fight for Lusk to attend any district events as long as she is a registered sex offender, Greg Dow said. She is required to register for 10 years and her son is still a student at Prosser High.

"Nobody can challenge a school policy after 30 days? That's just silly," Dow said after the hearing. "Especially when the policy says a future decision will be made, and now we can't challenge a future decision."

Lusk was in court with her daughter, who was named as a plaintiff in an injunction filed last week by the Dows. The injunction was an attempt to get the district to allow Lusk at the graduation.

The Lusks were not available to talk about the decision after the hearing.

Lusk has made several requests to attend district events since the no trespass order was issued. Every request has been denied.

Lusk pleaded guilty to seven probation violations in November 2011 after attending school events without the superintendent's permission. She said the violations stemmed from when she attended her daughter's swim meet in Ellensburg.

The Dows plan to file a motion asking the judge to reconsider Friday's ruling.

Lusk's case has gained national media attention, including interviews on ABC's 20/20 program.

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

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