University Place high school teacher charged with child rape
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. -- For the second time in two weeks, a Pierce County teacher has been charged with having sex with a student.
Michael Allen, a 33-year-old biology teacher at Curtis High School, was in court on Wednesday to plead not guilty to charges of child rape.
Several of Allen's students went to court to show their support.
"We're in support for him. We're all here for him," said student Donte Austin.
Allen was actually suspended a month ago for having too close of a relationship with the alleged victim. They were seen walking together through University Place neighborhoods. Then, on Tuesday at Curtis High School, the 17-year-old girl reportedly told detectives they actually had sex on several occasions at her home.
Several students said they don't believe the accusations.
"It just kind of preposterous that this would happen," said Hunter Larson. "He has a wife and kids. It just doesn't seem realistic to me."
But several other students said they're not shocked. They say Allen was often too friendly with certain female students.
"There's a point where it gets a little bit weird. Like he would be flirting with them," said student Amanda Budd.
District superintendent Patti Banks said there are firm policies and training for teachers to keep their distance.
"To protect yourself, don't let your relationships with students stray from the professional interaction that you have in your classroom," Banks said.
This comes on the heels of last week's arrest of Lincoln High School teacher Meredith Powell, who's also accused of having sex with students.
"It's like a domino effect. One teacher gets hit over at Lincoln and then now at Curtis, so parents just have to stay on top of things," said Curtis High School parent Dayna Hentz,
For now, Allen is ordered held on $25,000 bail and is ordered not to have any contact with children except his own.
Allen is still on paid leave, but the superintendent said there's enough evidence to fire him right now even before trial just based on his "too close" personal relationship with the student. Banks said he's already violated the teacher guidelines that he signed.