School district to pay $750K to settle molestation lawsuit

OLYMPIA, Wash. - An insurer for the Olympia School District has agreed to pay a family $750,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged the district failed to supervise a former bus driver who molested a 6-year-old girl.

The Olympian reports that Gary Shafer was sentenced in 2011 to 13 1/2 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting three girls on Olympia school buses, including the plaintiff's daughter.

Shafer, who did not have a prior criminal record at the time of the molestation, began working for the district in October 2005. He was removed from his route in late 2010 after a parent first made the allegations. He resigned in January 2011.

According to court documents, when Shafer was facing accusations of child molestation, he told his wife, "I'm sick in the head and I need help." His wife told investigators she found what she believed to be child pornography on his computer in the wake of the allegations.

Tacoma lawyer Darrell Cochran announced the settlement. He represents the family involved. A school district spokesperson was not immediately reachable for comment late Thursday.

A Thurston County jury last year awarded another victim's family $1.4 million after finding at trial that the district failed to properly supervise Shafer. The newspaper says the school district is appealing that award.