Media outlets are reporting that West Linn High School Teacher Jonathan Michael Peachey has been arrested on charges of sexual abuse related to two male students. Mr. Peachey is reportedly a Spanish and English teacher at West Linn High. Peachey has also served as an adviser to the school’s Ski Club and for a student leadership club called “Link Crew.” In all, Peachey has taught in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District for more than a decade.
The criminal charges against Michael Peachey also include supplying alcohol to minor students. In total, media reports indicate that Peachey is facing two counts of sex abuse 3, two counts of official misconduct 1, and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor. On Tuesday night, Peachey posted bail and was released from the Clackamas County Jail.
Peachey is now on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case, according to Kathe Monroe, the district’s human resources director. (Reports indicate that Peachey was previously convicted of DUII during his tenure at West Linn High School.)
West Linn High Principal Kevin Mills issued the following statement to district parents:
“The West Linn-Wilsonville School District is cooperating with the investigation,” Mills said. “We are very concerned about these charges and will do all we can to support students and staff. Counselors will be available to support students as needed.”
Police spokesman told media outlets that they began to investigate Mr. Peachey earlier this week, when they received information that a West Linn HS teacher was “inappropriately touching male students.” The report to police indicated that this “inappropriate touching” occurred in Lake Oswego at a private residence.
Steve Crew, Peter Janci and the team at Crew Janci LLP have represented dozens of victims of sexual abuse involving teachers and schools. The facts reported by law enforcement in this case are common in school abuse situations: a popular teacher, involved in extracurricular activities, breaching boundaries with students, and then abusing them. In particular, giving alcohol (or drugs) to minors is a favorite tactic of sexual abusers — it lowers victims’ inhibitions, makes them feel complicit in the sexual abuse, and may make the victims worried about telling someone (for fear that they will “get in trouble”). This is how child sexual abuse is often achieved in school settings. Perpetrators in school abuse settings often have many victims. And, the responsible organization often has prior notice that there was reason for concern about the alleged perpetrator.
Unfortunately, incidences of sexual abuse in schools are far too common. Just this year, there have been numerous similar incidents in Oregon public schools.
It is too soon to know the full story of what happened at West Linn High School. But, as Sgt. Tom Hamann, spokesman for the Lake Oswego Police Department, told news outlets: “At this time, we are aware of two victims, but it is possible that there could be more.”
If you have information about abuse by Jonathan Michael Peachey or sexual abuse at West Linn High School, police are asking that you contact Detective Lee Ferguson at 503-635-0238.