Teacher pleads not guilty to groping girls at elementary school

SEATTLE - A teacher from a private Jewish Orthodox elementary school in South Seattle has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation.

Jordan Murray, 32, a 1st- and 2nd-grade teacher at the Torah Day School, is accused of groping two girls, ages 6 and 7, as they sat on his lap behind his desk.

He pleaded not guilty to four charges of child molestation Monday in King County Superior Court. The judge ordered him to have no contact with minors. He's allowed to have contact with his own three children, but only in the presence of their mother.

Murray, who was known by the honorary title of "Rabbi Yaakov Murray" at the school, was initially put on administrative leave, but has since been fired from the school. He's out of jail after posting bond on $100,000 bail.

Murray could face a 25-year minimum term in prison if convicted as charged.

The school is providing counseling for students who may have questions about what happened.

A 6-year-old girl said Murray put her on his lap and shoved his hands down her pants while he was seated behind his desk, Seattle Detective Michael Moore told the court. The girl had approached Murray to show him her school work.

As he did so, Murray stared at the girls school work as though he was reading it, Moore continued. The detective added that the rest of the first-grade class was unaware Murray was groping the child.

Moore went on to claim Murray molested the girl behind his desk on several other occasions. The girl's family notified authorities after she reported the apparent abuse.

A 7-year-old girl made similar allegations against Murray, claiming he molested her several times in recent weeks, Moore continued. Like the other girl, she said Murray molested her behind his desk in the classroom.

A third girl said Murray often hugged her and lifted her onto his lap at his desk at his desk. He is not alleged to have molested that girl, though investigators suggest he touched the girl over her clothing.

Murray declined to speak with investigators, according to charging papers.

Investigators note Murray is not actually an ordained rabbi; students at the school called him by that title out of respect. He has no criminal history.