SKHS employee arrested for sex with teen
February 25, 2009 · Updated 4:33 PM
A 24-year-old educator at South Kitsap High School was arrested last week after his alleged relationship with a 17-year-old was reported to school officials, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.
Thomas G. Henry, who worked as a para-educator in the high school’s video production department until last week, was charged Feb. 20 with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor in the first-degree in Kitsap County Superior Court. He pleaded not-guilty to both counts, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
According to the probable cause statement filed by Det. Ray Stroble of the Sheriff’s Office, a female student at SKHS told school officials on Feb. 18 that her friend, a fellow female student, was having a relationship with Henry, and she was concerned he might become involved with another student.
She said initially her friend would not reveal who she was involved with, but she discovered who it was when she gave her a ride to Henry’s apartment in Port Orchard.
The victim was then interviewed by a member of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office’s Sexual Assault Unit. She confirmed that she had met Henry at a party at a friend’s house in December, and that they had kissed but not had intercourse. She said they agreed to wait until she was 18 and that they “shouldn’t be hanging out,” but the interviewer told investigators afterward that she believed the girl was not telling her the truth.
South Kitsap School District officials, including SKHS principal Jerry Holsten, then contacted Henry. The defendant said he had met the victim at a friend’s house around Thanksgiving and admitted to having intercourse with her several times, but the contact occurred after she had dropped out of school.
The detective noted that according to school records, however, the victim had not officially withdrawn from school until the first week of February, although her mother sent a letter to the school on Jan. 21 indicating that her daughter would be withdrawing.
The detective then interviewed the victim again. She confirmed she met Henry around Thanksgiving and that she spent “every day of her winter break at his apartment.” She then told the officer that she had intercourse with Henry as many as 30 times, and always at his apartment.
She said two weeks ago, Henry had broken off their relationship, telling her that he felt guilty because of her age, and since she was a student and he “a teacher.”
She said Henry had bought her a book for Christmas, and described several gifts she had bought for him, along with a hair band she left at his apartment.
Deputies then contacted Henry at his apartment and placed him under arrest. He refused to make a statement, but officers reportedly located all the items the victim described in his apartment, including her hair band.
SKSD spokeswoman Aimee Warthen said that Henry had been placed on administrative leave Feb. 18 and was asked “not to be on district property or have contact with students.”
At Henry’s arraignment, the deputy prosecutor asked Judge Ted Spearman to retain Henry’s bail at $200,000, citing “serious concerns” expressed by SKSD officials that he may try to contact the victim or other witnesses “based on conduct observed.”
Based on Henry’s lack of any prior criminal record, his defense attorney requested his bail be lowered to $10,000. Spearman lowered his bail to $25,000. Henry has since posted bail and been released.
Henry graduated from South Kitsap High School in 2003, and was involved in the video production classes, which are part of the school’s Career and Technical Education Department. He was hired by the district as a para-educator in September of 2007.
Last month, he premiered a movie in Port Orchard that he filmed in Kitsap County and Seattle.
Henry’s trial is scheduled for April 13, with an omnibus hearing March 11.
Anyone with information about the case or potential victims is asked to call Det. Ray Stroble at 337-7101.