The Olympia School District faces more litigation after another girl has claimed she was molested by Gary Shafer, a former driver who was sentenced to 14½ years to life in prison for sexually assaulting three girls on Olympia school buses in late 2010.
Defense attorney Darrell Cochran filed a tort claim notice Friday on behalf of a girl who was 5 when Gary Shafer allegedly began molesting her on a Garfield Elementary School bus route in fall 2010, the notice says.
“It is important to note that (the girl’s) molestation did not surface until very recently,” the notice states. It claims Garfield Principal Robert Hodges “had reason to know” about the additional abuse and didn’t report it.
Olympia district spokesman Ryan Betz disputed that, calling Hodges “a great advocate for children.”
“This is an unfounded allegation and, because of pending litigation, we cannot make comment on any of the details,” he said.
Cochran also sued Friday on behalf of one of the girls Shafer was convicted of molesting. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court, alleges the district was negligent and “knew or should have known” about the molestation.
An attorney for the district has maintained that Shafer was riding a Centennial Elementary School bus as a “helper” to learn the route when he molested one of the girls. The attorney, Jerry Moberg, also told the jury the district had no inkling that Shafer was a predator.
Last week, after a three-week trial, a Thurston County jury awarded another victim’s family $1.4 million. A juror said after the trial that the district was negligent because it failed to adequately supervise Shafer. The juror, Nora Mena, also said it seemed Shafer was seemingly “just riding around on buses” on his own time, unpaid, with no one keeping track of how often or why he was doing so.
Cochran’s new lawsuit isn’t the only pending civil suit; another attorney also has sued on behalf of one of the students Shafer was convicted of molesting. Another lawsuit ended with last week’s $1.4 million jury award, which must be paid by the district’s insurer.
Cochran said additional plaintiffs might come forward.
In his tort claim notice, Cochran states, “… we will continue to relentlessly seek to unearth evidence of how the District could ever have failed to prevent a prolific child molester and predator like Gary Shafer from engaging in widespread sexual abuse.”