11:11 AM: This week, Madison Middle School teacher Darren D. Hunter was placed on administrative leave because of a rape charge filed against him seven months ago. We received an anonymous tip about this earlier this week; here’s what we have since found out.
Hunter, 51, was charged in February with third-degree rape because of an incident at his home in Kent in August of last year involving a then-43-year-old woman he had been dating. The court documents say she contacted police in November to say he had raped her in August, via sexual contact to which she did not give consent. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office tells WSB the charge was filed shortly after they got case information from Kent Police in February. Hunter appeared at an arraignment hearing after the charge was filed but remained out of custody on personal recognizance. The case has been making its way through the system ever since and is slated for another hearing today, at which the case might be resolved via a plea agreement.
We asked Seattle Public Schools several questions about the situation and district policy on Tuesday. So far, this is the only response we’ve received, from assistant superintendent Beverly Redmond:
On Sunday, Sept. 18, Seattle Public Schools became aware that the employee had been arraigned in February on charges that stemmed from an August 2021 incident when school was not in session. The alleged incident did not involve a minor or take place on school property. The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave on Monday, Sept. 19.
Our source says that the district was notified by a community member who saw a social-media post about the charge against Hunter. So we’ve also asked the district some policy questions, such as what the policy is for notification – how should they have been notified that he had been charged with a felony sex crime? We’ve found some general district policies online here, but they don’t appear to address that particular question. We’ll update when we hear back, as well as when we get information on what happens at this afternoon’s hearing.
1:30 PM: SPS has responded this afternoon to other questions we also asked yesterday. Regarding notification, “The district has an agreement with local law enforcement to work together on cases involving child sexual abuse or assault. In all other instances, the district is not notified directly. SPS is working on self-reporting guidelines, which would be a change in working conditions and be bargained across all labor partners.” Hunter’s future status will be determined by the district per this policy below:
Certificated staff may be disciplined for engaging in unprofessional conduct according to School Board Policies 5280 and 5281.
Conduct violations that are contrary to the core values of the Seattle School District and involve a substantial risk of the safety of students, families, staff or the public including acts of serious misconduct or of acts of criminal conduct could disqualify an employee from continued employment. Convictions of crimes under RCW 28A.400.322, (see crimes listed below) or a crime that is directly related to the position held by the employee or impacts the employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties are subject to termination. Crimes outside of the ones listed below are handled on a case-by-case decision based on what the criminal charges are.
(a) Any felony crime involving the physical neglect of a child under chapter 9A.42 RCW;
(b) The physical injury or death of a child under chapter 9A.32 or 9A.36 RCW, except motor vehicle violations under chapter 46.61 RCW;
(c) Sexual exploitation of a child under chapter 9.68A RCW;
(d) Sexual offenses under chapter 9A.44 RCW where a minor is the victim;
(e) Promoting prostitution of a minor under chapter 9A.88 RCW;
(f) The sale or purchase of a minor child under RCW 9A.64.030;
(g) Violation of laws of another jurisdiction that are similar to those specified in (a) through (f) of this subsection.
(2) RCW 28A.400.320, 28A.400.330, 28A.405.470, * 28A.410.090
(3), 28A.410.110, 9.96A.020, and 43.43.845 apply upon a guilty plea or conviction occurring on or after July 26, 2009, for any of the following felony crimes or attempts, conspiracies, or solicitations to commit any of the following felony crimes:
(a) A felony violation of RCW 9A.88.010, indecent exposure;
(b) A felony violation of chapter 9A.42 RCW involving physical neglect;
(c) A felony violation of chapter 9A.32 RCW;
(d) A violation of RCW 9A.36.011, assault 1; 9A.36.021, assault 2; 9A.36.120, assault of a child 1; 9A.36.130, assault of a child 2; or any other felony violation of chapter 9A.36 RCW involving physical injury except assault 3 where the victim is eighteen years of age or older;
(e) A sex offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030;
(f) A violation of RCW 9A.40.020, kidnapping 1; or 9A.40.030, kidnapping 2;
(g) A violation of RCW 9A.64.030, child selling or child buying;
(h) A violation of RCW 9A.88.070, promoting prostitution 1;
(i) A violation of RCW 9A.56.200, robbery 1; or
(j) A violation of laws of another jurisdiction that are similar to those specified in (a) through (i) of this subsection.
The district says Madison families were sent a letter this morning about the situation.
4:30 PM UPDATE: Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Casey McNerthney says Hunter pleaded guilty this afternoon to a reduced charge of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor. McNerthney explains: “After the filing of charges, the defense provided the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office with additional information, including text communications between the victim/survivor and the defendant that occurred after the assault. Based upon this new information and after receiving defense mitigation, the KCPAO believed that a reduction of charge was appropriate. Senior Deputy Prosecutors twice met with the victim/survivor and her advocate to discuss the case and the reduction in charge prior to extending an offer to defense. The victim and an advocate were in court today for Mr. Hunter’s guilty plea.” He will be sentenced later this year.