Crime

This Tri-Cities teacher is accused of molesting a student. Charges for 6 more girls were dismissed

Teaching kids about body safety

Brief, direct ways to talk with kids about what is private on their body, from the non-profit Darkness to Light that is committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse.
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Brief, direct ways to talk with kids about what is private on their body, from the non-profit Darkness to Light that is committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse.

A Franklin County fourth-grade teacher pleaded innocent Tuesday to inappropriately touching a girl in his classroom.

Rudy “Hunter” Hoglen initially was charged with first-degree child molestation for the one girl, and six counts of attempted first-degree child molestation for six other students at Edwin Markham Elementary

However, Superior Court Judge Sam Swanberg found there was no probable cause for the six other charges and threw them out without prejudice. He ruled that sheriff’s investigators didn’t explain in court documents the specific allegations involving each of the other girls.

Prosecutors can re-file the cases at a later date if they get more information or evidence to support the allegations.

Paid leave since March

Hoglen, 31, has been on paid administrative leave since March 21. He also reportedly was out for at least a month at the start of the school year, possibly on similar allegations.

One court document he signed on Tuesday shows he is living in West Richland, while another showed him living in Benton City.

The brief probable-cause affidavit, written by Franklin County sheriff’s Detective Joshua Dennis, only gives details about one incident that allegedly happened during a math tutoring session before school.

The child molestation charge includes the aggravating factor that Hoglen was in a position of trust, which helped him commit the crime.

Deputy Prosecutor Laura Mapes acknowledged that the affidavit was too general.

She told the Herald she will be working with the detective to make the document “more robust” so they can file additional charges against Hoglen to reflect the other alleged victims.

In the meantime, Hoglen’s trial is set for July 31 in Franklin County Superior Court.

Incident during math tutoring

Dennis wrote in the probable-cause affidavit that deputies went to the school March 21 after a report that a teacher had touched a girl inappropriately. The school is in the Pasco School District but is about 12 miles north of Pasco near Mathews Corner.

Edwin Markham sign.jpg
Edwin Markham Elementary School is at 4031 Elm Road, about 12 miles north of the I-182 interchange for Road 68 in Pasco. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Through the investigation, seven female students talked about how Hoglen “would frequently touch their inner thighs, lower backs and shoulders in a patting, rubbing and/or squeezing motion while instructing them on their schoolwork,” the court document says.

Most of the students said it was a daily occurrence, the detective added.

One girl said Hoglen had touched her “privates area” during the math tutoring session, while other students were in the classroom, the document says.

She could not remember the exact date, but said it was during the 2017-18 school year.

Devastated by ‘false accusations’

Scott Johnson, Hoglen’s lawyer, said this is the second time in a matter of weeks that a defense motion resulted in a judge dismissing charges “that legally should never have been filed by the government.”

“Hunter is devastated by the false accusations,” Johnson told the Herald. “If a judge dismissed six counts without hearing our side of the story, imagine what a jury will do when we get to present our side. The case against Hunter is a witch hunt and we look forward to clearing his name at trial.”

Hoglen appeared in court Tuesday on a summons. He was given until 5 p.m. Tuesday to pay $25,000 bail or turn himself in. His attorney said Hoglen posted a bail bond.

Hoglen has been ordered to stay away from the girl and to avoid all children while the case is pending.

‘A breach of our trust’

Online records for the Pasco School District show he was first hired on a provisional contract in August 2016.

Shane Edinger, the district’s public affairs director, said Tuesday that the district was aware of the charges filed against Hoglen.

A district administrator reported the allegation to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office this spring, and Hoglen was put on leave, which is standard district procedure, he said.

“If true, these allegations represent a breach of our trust and a disappointing departure from our standards for all district employees,” according to a district statement. “The safety of our students is the highest priority of our school and district staff members.”

Edinger further said this is the only information the district will be providing at this time because of the seriousness of the criminal case.

Markham Elementary parents with questions can contact school Principal Kim Mahaffey at 509-543-6790.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.
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