Pierce County elementary school teacher pleads not guilty to child molestation

A teacher from Evergreen Elementary School in Pierce County, Washington has been arrested for child molestation, following an investigation by local authorities.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) reported that on February 26, a student alerted deputies to an alleged incident at the school, accusing a teacher of molestation or groping. Detectives from the sheriff's office began an investigation immediately after the accusation was made.

The school district removed the teacher from his duties at the school in Longranch during the ongoing investigation.

Detectives executed a search warrant at the suspect's home in Gig Harbor. On April 18, the 34-year-old male teacher, Jordan Henderson, was arrested for child molestation in the 1st degree. He has since been booked into the Pierce County Jail. He's expected to be arraigned for eight counts of child molestation Friday. 

According to the survivor, the abuse allegedly took place over the course of the last two school years, 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 while they were in fourth and fifth grades. The survivor's attorney, Kevin Hastings, expressed concerns about the handling of such matters, suggesting that sometimes, warning signs are not given due attention.

"Oftentimes our concerns are brought forth and maybe they're not taken seriously enough," Hastings said.

Questions loom over how such misconduct could persist unnoticed. Hastings questioned, "How did a teacher have access to children and commit sex crimes in a classroom or on school grounds for over two years, or at least two years?"

Hastings claims Henderson would have small groups of girls in his classroom during lunchtime. "Well, that superficially might not be that concerning to anyone, but you know if you actually know about grooming and targeting techniques, that's absolutely one of them," Hastings said.

Detectives are now delving into the circumstances surrounding these disturbing allegations. 

Peninsula School District Superintendent Krestin Bahr sent families and staff a statement saying:

 "I take the safety and well-being of our students very seriously and want to assure our community that these allegations are in stark opposition to everything we stand for. As our community navigates this troubling situation, I want to thank you for keeping the safety and well-being of our students at the forefront of your thoughts and actions."

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised regarding the district's awareness of the teacher's interactions with students.

"It's our understanding that at least one teacher did raise concerns over Mr. Henderson's interactions with children at the district," Hastings said.

FOX 13 reached out to the district inquiring if anything was done, and are waiting to hear back. 

According to Hastings, the accused teacher has been employed in the education sector for approximately nine to ten years. Additionally, he held a role as a deacon at the Wellspring Fellowship Church in the Key Peninsula.

Wellspring Fellowship posted a statement about Henderson's allegations on Facebook:

"While some would have you focus on alarm bells and your greatest fears about what you do not know, I want to encourage you with confidence based on what I do know. I know Jordan to be of the highest character and quality as a man. He is a great husband, a great father, a great teacher. He and his family have the full confidence and support of our church. Please join us in asking that God reveal the full and complete truth regarding these allegations."

Hastings suspects that there may be more survivors who have yet to come forward. "A lot of folks don't come forward for years," Hastings said. He believes that there could be additional victims.

"That raises concerns, at least in my mind in handling these types of cases around the country, because oftentimes what we see are individuals who commit crimes against children, finding different access points to have access to commit the crimes," Hastings said. "Usually when there's one victim or two victims, oftentimes are many more."

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said the investigation is ongoing and further details will be disclosed as they become available.

"It's really important for the family to make sure justice is had and he doesn't have any access to children to be able to do this again to anyone," Hastings said.

Henderson pleaded not guilty to his charges on Friday during his first court appearance.


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