McDermoth Elementary teacher accused of child rape

A physical education teacher at McDermoth Elementary School in Aberdeen was arrested last week on suspicion of a 2017 sexual assault of an 11-year-old male relative in Marysville.

Ryan Michael Harless, 35, was arrested by Aberdeen Police as he left work, then transported to Marysville.

The victim’s mother called police Feb. 7 after the victim, now living in Florida, told her about the assault, Marysville police Cmdr. Mark Thomas said.

A second relative has come forward, reporting that he was victimized by Harless several times between June 2004 and June 2005, when he was 11 years old and living outside Snohomish County, Thomas said. Additional charges from those alleged assaults are being reviewed by prosecutors.

Harless appeared in Everett District Court on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 14, on one count of first-degree rape of a child. Bail was set at $100,000.

“Our experience in cases of this nature is that there could be additional victims that have not yet come forward,” Marysville Det. Craig Bartl said. “We are asking that any victims please contact their local law enforcement agency and make a report.”

The Aberdeen School District was made aware of the arrest shortly after it was made.

School Superintendent Alicia Henderson told The Daily World that Harless has been employed by the district since 2012 and said there had been no complaints or disciplinary action against him during his employment. He has served as the physical education teacher at McDermoth during his entire time with the district.

She said Feb. 14 that district administrators talked to faculty at McDermoth about the situation and would be posting a statement on the district Facebook page.

“We encourage the community, if they have concerns about Mr. Harless, to contact the police department as this is an active investigation,” Henderson said.

Asked if any decisions have been made regarding Harless’ employment with the district, Henderson said, “No. At this time there has not been any action taken about his employment. He is not at work today because he is in custody.”

Henderson said the district is cooperating fully and the investigation does not involve any students of the Aberdeen School District. Anyone who thinks they may have information that would aid the investigation is asked to contact Det. Jeff Weiss at the Aberdeen Police Department, 360-533-8765, she said.

“As always, the safety of our students remains a primary concern,” Henderson said. “The District will keep itself apprised and will take all necessary steps to ensure the least possible disruption to the learning environment. To that end, we ask our community’s assistance regarding the tenor of social media conversations while the legal process plays out.”

Henderson said anyone with concerns is free to contact her at 360-538-2002.

The Daily Herald at Everett contributed to this story.

Dan Hammock can be reached at 360-537-3932 or dhammock@thedailyworld.com.