Local News

Despite pattern of inappropriate behavior, teacher never removed from class

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Court documents show a pattern of inappropriate behavior by former Central Valley School District teacher Anthony Cucinotti yet he was never removed from a classroom, put on administrative leave or fired.

This despite the fact that a former Bowdish Middle School student said she was molested by Cucinotti and the school district is now being sued for failing to protect the then 11-year-old girl from Cucinotti, who had a long history of inappropriate behavior with his students.

"They don't do anything about it, or if they do do something about it, they're just slapping the hand, you know and then letting the person go ahead until next time," attorney Richard Eymann said.

Cucinotti case vo

Eymann represents the victim, now 15, who said that when she was 11 she was molested by Cucinotti. Eymann said, based on disciplinary files with the Central Valley School District, the district failed to protect his client from Cucinotti.

"There were many years, many occasions where he was doing things which most people would say 'Wow that's inappropriate,'" he said.

Court documents allege Cucinotti that between 1994 and 2009 was accused of reading books to students with sexual content, displayed a girl troll doll with its pants down and said inappropriate things, asked girl students if they'd been naughty and needed to be spanked, snapped a girl's bra, then rubbed that area and had been seen looking down female students' shirts.

In response to the last allegation, in disciplinary documents Cucinotti responded that "Girls who dress provocatively think provocatively."

One of Cucinotti's former Bowdish students wasn't surprised to hear of the allegations. Alena Patchett remembers the same rumors when she was a student of his in 2006.

"With girls he definitely was friendly, like right there helping them, always standing over them," Patchett said.

The allegations aren't just from students. In one document, a colleague of his at Bowdish Middle School said he saw Cucinotti with a student halfway on his lap, whispering something in Cucinotti's ear.

"This school district should have noticed something a long time ago and they continued to let him have this kind of one on one contact with these girls and it's really sad," Eymann said.

Based on everything Eymann has seen and heard of Cucinotti he knows there are other victims.

"We would hope that they come forward confidentially; we agree to confidentiality, but I would really like to hear from somebody that would really like to share that kind of information with us," he said.

In response to a request for comment on this story, the Central Valley School District sent the following written statement: "We have not seen the lawsuit and it is not our practice in the Central Valley School District to comment on legal matters before the court."

As for Cucinotti, he lives in California now. Attempts to reach him by phone for comment on this story have been unsuccessful.