Wednesday, April 13, 2005
A Columbia High School female student on Monday accused the school's music and drama teacher of touching her inappropriately, according to a complaint given to the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office.
The student, who is 16, also made the allegation against teacher Robert (Rob) Jones during an on-camera interview that aired Monday night on Portland TV station FOX 12 Oregon's 10 o'clock news. Both the student and her mother appeared in the taped interview, which was the lead story on the nightly news program.
That report, by FOX 12's Jamie Wilson, did not mention Jones by name; it identified him only as "a popular music teacher."
KCSO launched its investigation of Jones on Monday, Sheriff Chris Mace said, but has since turned its detective's case file over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the FBI's request for incorporation into its ongoing investigation of Jones.
"The detective has taken all the information we need," Mace said, "so the FBI can incorporate that information with the other information in the investigation involving Mr. Jones."
Mace added that KCSO plans to follow up any lead in the case that comes its way "to make sure the information flow is going back and forth" between the law-enforcement agencies.
The Enterprise has learned that Jones, a resident of The Dalles, is a subject in an FBI probe that's focusing on possible criminal use of White Salmon Valley School District-owned computers.
Jones was placed on paid administrative leave March 30 pending the outcome of the FBI investigation.
FBI agents first appeared in White Salmon that day to inform school district officials of their investigation. The school district voluntarily handed over two district-owned computers to the FBI -- one on March 30, another on the 31st -- to help investigators determine whether they were used illegally.
White Salmon Valley Schools Superintendent Dale Palmer said the district is taking the new allegation involving Jones "very seriously" as part its own continuing administrative review and in cooperation with the ongoing federal investigation.
"If other students or parents come forward with new information, it will all be investigated very thoroughly," Palmer said.
Regular classes at Columbia High School resumed Monday following a week-long spring break, with one significant change: Jones' classes at CHS have been taken over by Principal Tim McGlothlin, who previously served as the school's music director before becoming CHS's top administrator in 1997.
Jones joined the Columbia High School faculty on Jan. 4, 1999. He has not been charged with any crimes at the local or federal level.
FBI spokesman Ray Lauer, of the Seattle field office, said Monday, "There's nothing new to report. It's a pending investigation and we can't comment on it."
He added, however, that any charges developed by federal agents probably would be filed by the U.S. District Attorney's office in the Western District Court for the state of Washington, "in Tacoma, most likely, but possibly Seattle."