A 33-year-old Curtis High School biology teacher accused of sexual misconduct with a student pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal charges in Pierce County Superior Court.
Michael Edison Allen, who has taught at the high school in University Place since 2009, was released from custody on $25,000 bail.
He’s accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student. He was charged with five counts of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Court documents in Allen’s case say his alleged misconduct came to light after he was placed on administrative leave Jan. 17 and ordered by the school to stay away from the girl.
School district Superintendent Patti Banks said another student and her mother reported concerns to a school counselor that day.
On Tuesday, according to charging papers, the girl admitted to school officials that she and Allen had a sexual relationship. Allen was arrested later Tuesday.
Court documents give these details:
Detectives interviewed the girl, who told them she obtained the teacher’s phone number from another student. She said she called and texted Allen, and that they began running and walking together.
She said they spent a lot of time together, and that they kissed and touched each other -- usually in the carport outside her home. She said they had sexual intercourse three times, as well as other forms of sexual contact.
She told detectives they continued to talk and see each other, even after the school placed him on leave and his wife kicked him out of their home. Allen is married, with two children.
Some of his students and former students were in court Wednesday to observe proceedings. They said Allen was a good teacher who cared about his students, and that the allegations against him are shocking.
“Everyone is taking sides on Twitter,” said Curtis senior Hunter Larson. “Everyone is pointing fingers. But no one really knows.”
“It’s hard to believe -- he’s a cool guy,” said Odessa Mendoza, a Curtis senior who said Allen was his freshman football coach. “It’s hard to believe this is happening.”
Allen, who was born in Puyallup and attended high school there, was released from custody Wednesday to live with his mother and stepfather in Tacoma.
He was ordered to have no contact with the girl involved in the allegations. He was also ordered to have no contact with other minors, apart from his own children.
His trial date was set for April 7.
The accusations against Allen are the second against a Pierce County teacher in recent weeks.
On Friday, Meredith Powell, a 24-year-old math teacher at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, pleaded not guilty to two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
It is illegal in Washington state for school employees to have sex with students, even if the sex is consensual and the student is legally of age.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office explained that the difference in charges between the cases at the two high schools revolves around the ages of the students involved. Two of the boys in the Lincoln teacher’s case were 15 at the time of the alleged crimes. The Curtis girl was 17 -- a year beyond the state’s age of consent -- when the sexual contact is alleged to have taken place.