Prosecutor: Highline teacher raped boy living in her home

Editor's Note: Darcy Smith was found not guilty on March 10, 2016.

A Highline School District elementary school teacher faces child rape charges following allegations she sexually abused a former student she'd taken into her home.

Formerly touted as one of Washington's best teachers, Darcy M. Smith is now accused of abusing a boy for more than two years. The boy told investigators Smith, 41, first had sex with him when he was 14 and living in her Renton home. He's now 19.

Smith, most recently of McMicken Heights Elementary School, has been charged with three counts of child rape in King County Superior Court. The assaults are alleged to have begun in September 2008; charging papers suggest Smith was still sexually involved with the boy when she was named teacher of the year for the region in 2012.

In a statement Friday, attorney Brad Meryhew said Smith denies the allegations and has maintained her innocence since she was first contacted by investigators.

Smith gave a recorded interview to investigators, Meryhew said. The veteran defense attorney said detectives didn't interview Smith's husband or any others who were in the home "at the time of these false allegations."

"There is a lot more to this story than is contained in the cursory investigation that was done prior to the filing of these charges," Meryhew said. "Darcy looks forward to vigorously defending herself and to being exonerated."

Highline Public Schools spokeswoman Catherine Carbone Rogers said parents of children taught by Smith were notified of the investigation earlier in the week.

Smith has been on administrative leave since August, when the district was told of the claims, Carbone Rogers said. She'd been with the district since 2001.

In charging papers filed earlier this week, a King County Sheriff's Office detective said the alleged victim first reported the allegations in May.

The boy's mother agreed to let him move in with Smith while he was recuperating from an injury. Smith, whose house was closer to the hospital than his mother's home, was seen as a good influence on the boy.

Speaking with police, the young man said Smith, his sixth grade teacher, brought him into her home when he was 12 and began abusing him the following year. According to charging papers, he said the sex continued until he moved out of her home at 18.

Writing the court, the detective said the boy described sharing his personal problems with Smith. She first showered him with gifts and affection, according to charging papers, and then agreed to care for him full time.

The abuse followed and intensified when Smith drank, the young man told the detective, according to charging papers.

He "said he was a boy, thought it was cool," the detective said in charging papers. They first had sex when he turned 14.

"Smith told him not to say anything and made him promise not to tell," the detective continued. "Smith said she would go to jail and be in big trouble if he told."

Prior to being placed on leave, Smith was widely celebrated for her work with students coming to McMicken with challenging backgrounds. In an essay published in an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction collection, Smith opined that teachers are required "not merely to enrich the lives of our students academically."

"We have a much greater responsibility to the children we teach," Smith wrote in 2013. "We do not always know what role we are fulfilling for a child at any given moment, but it is important to remember that we have a moral obligation to fill these roles when we can."

Charged with three counts of third-degree child rape, Smith has not been jailed. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 12 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.