This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
School is supposed to be a safe harbor for students, not a place where sex predators can connect with them while posing as normal students. But that’s a real risk in Washington schools, as an outrageous Clark County case shows.
Jeremiah Thompson – a 19-year-old senior at Prairie High in Vancouver – was charged last week with raping a 14-year-old off campus on April 12. The girl reportedly had agreed to hook up with him at a nearby grocery store; whatever her intentions, she was well below the age of consent, and she sought medical care and a rape kit afterwards.
Let’s take a wild guess: She might have been less dazzled by Thompson if she’d known he was a registered sex offender, not just a senior interested in a freshman.
Another wild guess: Her parents might have warned her to watch out for him if they’d known he had a scary criminal record.
And scary it was. He’d been running into trouble with the law since he was 13. Three years ago, he was charged with molesting a 7-year-old girl and plea-bargained a lesser offense.
A month later, he sexually assaulted his mother, then assaulted his brother after he pulled Thompson off her.
Sweet guy. He was convicted (as a juvenile) of both crimes; after that, he repeatedly violated probation, failed drug tests and did stints in juvenile detention, according to the Vancouver Columbian.
Somehow, Thompson wound up being classified as a “Level 2” sex offender, a medium-risk category. Teenagers have a right to a public education regardless of their criminal histories. He wound up back in a regular school with access to every girl at Prairie High. No one warned his fellow students or their parents.
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