Victim awarded nearly $1.5M in school bus molestation case

OLYMPIA -- A jury awarded an Olympia girl and her mother more than $1 million on Friday in a civil trial stemming from a 2010 {A href=""}molestation case.

The family's attorney argued the Olympia School District failed to protect the girl from a former school bus helper who was convicted of sexually assaulting three young girls.

The school district claimed there was no way it could have known Gary Shafer was a risk, but the jury sided with the family and awarded the victim $1.45 million.

Shafer, who did not have a prior criminal record at the time of the molestation, began working for the district in October 2005.

Shafer was removed from his route in late 2010 after a parent first made the allegations. He resigned in January 2011.

In a Friday statement, the family's lawyer said the district worked hard to keep the molestation quiet to avoid embarrassment.

"Gary Shafer admitted to sexually assaulting 30 or more school children that the Olympia School District has done absolutely nothing to assist or even identify," said attorney Darrell Cochran. "The district won't truly be held accountable until all those kids who are suffering in silence are found and given some help."

Attorney Jerry Moberg represented the school district and said he was very surprised by the verdict.

"The jury has spoken," Moberg said. "While I disagree with the verdict, I respect it. The district will have to take a look at see what options are available to it."

It's unclear if the district will appeal the decision