Three more former Kennewick High School students file claims against district

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Three more former Kennewick High students filed $15 million in claims Monday with the Kennewick School District, saying a teacher and coach molested them at school and on trips.

Each victim is seeking $5 million, according to legal documents. The new filings mean there are eight claims with a total value of $40 million against the school district concerning William Pickerel, who was convicted in 2008 of sex crimes against young boys who were students.

District officials said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Attorney Jeff Kreutz of Tamaki Law in Kennnewick couldn’t say if any more claims will be filed.

Pickerel, 78, was convicted in King County of molesting five Tri-City students he took on sports outings to Seattle. He was recently released from prison for good behavior after serving 51/2 years of a 10-year sentence and is living in Seattle as a registered Level 3 sex offender.

He confessed to police he molested numerous other boys through the years. But more charges weren’t filed because either the boys weren’t identified or the statute of limitations expired, Benton County prosecutors said.

Two of the new claims stem from the 1990s when Pickerel was a full-time teacher and wrestling coach at Kennewick High. The third student attended the school as recently as 2007, when Pickerel was substitute teaching. That was the same year he was arrested.

The new claims say Pickerel sexually assaulted and molested the students on out-of-town trips. Two said they also were abused at school.

All have received therapy for their abuse and said the district failed to protect students and properly supervise Pickerel.

All of the former students have filed as John Doe, with a number from 1 to 8. Washington law allows sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed with John or Jane Doe, Kreutz said. The anonymous filings are to protect the victims from the stigma associated with being a male sexual abuse victim.

It also makes it unclear if the former students are the same men involved in Pickerel’s criminal conviction.

The district has 60 days to respond to each claim. If the district fails to respond or rejects the claims, the victims could then file a civil lawsuit.