8/20/2014

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Crime

Fourth student alleges sexual abuse against Tacoma teacher

Fourth student alleges sexual abuse against Tacoma teacher
Meredith Powell
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TACOMA, Wash. -- A fourth student has come forward alleging sexual abuse at the hands of a 24-year-old former math teacher at Lincoln High School, according to new charges filed Thursday with Pierce County Superior Court.

Meredith Powell was arrested in February and charged with two counts of child rape and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

According to the original charges, Powell engaged in sexual activity -- often in her classroom -- with three students between the ages of 15 and 17 and sent inappropriate text messages and photos.

Powell's alleged misconduct came to light when she wrote a letter apologizing to the girlfriend of one of the abused students, according to the charging documents.

She now faces a fourth charge, sexual misconduct with a minor. According to the updated charging documents, Powell engaged in a sexual act with a then-17-year-old student in her classroom after he expressed a desire to raise his math grade.

The new victim told his mother about what happened after she noticed a change in his behavior and saw news reports about Powell's arrest. Detectives met with the victim last week.

Powell, who has been with the school district since September 2012, was placed on unpaid leave following her arrest. She has since resigned.

She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Dan Voelpel with the Tacoma School District said the district is working with all four students and their families on a support plan, including counseling, so that the students can get back to their studies.

"These are very difficult circumstances for the victims and their families, so we design a custom plan for each student based on their particular needs," Voelpel said.

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