Storey DA’s office taking another look at allegations against teacher
December 14, 2007
The new assistant district attorney in Storey County is reviewing allegations that a former Virginia City High School teacher improperly touched a male student last spring. Two similar allegations against that teacher from the 1990s have been made public.
Laura Grant, hired in November, said District Attorney Harold Swafford asked her to take a fresh look at the case involving English and theater arts teacher William Beeson and a student, but declined to comment further.
The alleged incident occurred in April, and a complaint was filed with the sheriff’s office in May, at which time Beeson was placed on administrative leave by the Storey County School District.
Swafford decided against prosecuting the case, saying he did not believe a crime was committed. Beeson was fired in August from the school district. The district board upheld the firing on Dec. 5, after rejecting a settlement in which Beeson offered to give up his teaching certificate, not teach in any other state and have no contact with children in exchange for being allowed to resign and having 12Ú3 years of retirement bought out. The next step for the case is arbitration.
A surveillance video of the alleged incident was taken, but has not been released by school district or county authorities.
Storey County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Quirk said there have been three allegations of previous sexual incidents involving former male students, going back to the late 1990s, but that Beeson was never arrested.
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One former student reported two such incidents, one at Beeson’s home in Virginia City and one at Lake Tahoe, Quirk said. The alleged Virginia City incident was investigated by the Storey County Sheriff’s Office and the alleged Lake Tahoe incident was investigated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Halsey, public information officer for the department, said the Lake Tahoe incident was reported in January 1998. The case was closed because the alleged victim, a minor at the time, refused to cooperate with the investigation, he said.
He added that he didn’t know why the Storey County District Attorney at the time, Janet Hess, or her assistant, Terrence Shea, did not prosecute. Neither Hess nor Shea could be reached for comment.
“Statistically speaking, only 50 percent of all child-abuse cases go to court,” Quirk said. “One out of two gets dropped by the prosecutors.”
In another case, a former student came forward upon hearing of the ongoing investigation into the April allegation, Quirk said, and alleged he had been assaulted by Beeson in 1998 when he was 17. Quirk declined to give further details on that incident, saying it was part of his ongoing investigation.
“We get information and we are pursuing information on cases that still may be within the statute of limitations,” he said, adding that the statute of limitations on child sex assaults in Nevada is four years.
Beeson declined comment on the allegations.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.
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