ST. HELENS, Ore. --- Former Rainier special education teacher Boyce Williams Jr. pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of spanking three of his former students on their bare bottoms.
Williams, who has a history of alleged child abuse stretching back 15 years or more, escaped jail time but won't be teaching children again --- at least any time soon.
"I'm sorry that this happened. There's no excuse for it," Williams, 51, told Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Berkeley Smith. "I hope the kids in the community of Rainier can move forward with their lives and enjoy a new school year starting in September."
Williams, accompanied to court by adult relatives and his attorney, Bob Lucas of Rainier, was sentenced Thursday to five years probation and fined $1,500. In addition, he was barred from teaching or being a leader to children. Williams, who had relocated to Vancouver, also was barred from crossing state lines without approval from his probation officer --- a condition that Lucas protested.
"I still don't think he got justice," said the father of one of the boys. "This might affect (my son) for the rest of his life."
Williams pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor harassment involving touching of an intimate body part.
Smith said that in order to lead children again, such as being a coach or a Boy Scout leader, Williams would have to undergo a psychosexual evaluation that would either clear him of deviancy or prescribe a treatment.
Williams, a teacher and coach at Rainier Junior/Senior High School for seven years, allowed his teaching license to expire after his resignation in April. He's under investigation by the state board that licenses teachers.
District Attorney Steve Atchison said that the spankings took place on multiple occasions in January and February at Williams' Rainier home.
Through interviews with parents earlier this year, The Daily News learned that all three teenage boys had been Williams' students in the special education classes, where he handled the students with bad behavior problems.
Atchison said after the hearing that investigators had looked into allegations the spankings were sexual, after receiving phone calls from tipsters saying there was "more serious stuff." But investigators interviewed the boys who were involved in or witnessed the incidents, and they could not prove a more serious crime than the misdemeanor harassment or that more children victimized, he said.
"A trial might have resulted in an acquittal, and then there would be no court supervision" Atchison said. "This way, we reach a settlement that gets us court supervision. We didn't reach the result of zero."
He added that the type of harassment to which Williams pleaded guilty specifically involves intimate or sexual body parts.
Lucas told the judge that the spankings "started with their roughhousing, wrestling and then he proceeded to spank them."
"There is no evidence of sexual assault, no evidence of sexual gratification. There is evidence of extremely poor judgment on his part," Lucas said.
Williams' students in Rainier often went to his home to hang out, and one mother allowed her son to live with Williams before she learned of the spankings.
The parents of the victims were not present because they were not told about the sentencing hearing, Atchison said.
However, the mother of one of the victims wrote a statement to the court, which was submitted to Judge Smith.
"It's hard enough these days raising kids and keeping your family and home together," the mother wrote. "The last thing we needed on our plate was having the behavior specialist at Rainier School District take advantage of his position to get closer to these troubled boys with inappropriate behavior at his home."
The mother also noted that her son, who was angry that his teacher was in trouble, had become more aggressive and headstrong.
"However, as he matures, our hope is that he will come to realize that ... an adult pulled down (the boy's) pants and underwear and spanked and looked at (his) body. The adult should have known better," she wrote.
An Oregon Teachers Standards And Practices Commission investigation of Williams can now proceed after the sentencing.
"The fact that he pleaded guilty is significant," Vickie Chamberlain, commission executive director, said.
Harassment is not a charge that carries a permanent or an automatic license revocation, she said, but a teacher who is disciplined doesn't automatically get their license back, either. "The burden of proof is on the teacher for relicensing," Chamberlain said.
Lucas said Williams knows that his long career as a special education teacher, which included a stint at a state youth correctional facility, has come to an end.
"Frankly, he loved teaching," Lucas said after the hour-long hearing. "He doesn't know what he is going to do."
Lucas called a June 12 story in The Daily News about the accusations against Williams "mostly fair" but "overblown" and made Williams out to be a "monster."
He pointed out to the court that Williams had been a highly-regarded teacher and coach by colleagues and students before the article, but that people in the community turned against him.
Rainier School District Superintendent Michael Carter said that the case has made the district extra careful in checking references. Administrators now will call references from the entire history of job candidates, he said.
Williams faced similar charges in Alaska in 1993, after he worked as a special education teacher in the town of Bethel, but the case was thrown out on a technicality. However, after an investigation, Alaska's teachers licensing board revoked his license nearly 15 years ago.
Records show that an Oregon Teaching Standards and Practices Commission investigator in 1994 recommended that Williams not get a license because of his history in Alaska, but the commission went against the recommendation and licensed Williams after a hearing.
"If someone would have called Alaska, I believe strongly he would not have been offered a job," Carter said.
"When something like this happens, it is a betrayal to the student, a betrayal of trust and a betrayal to the profession," he said, after learning of Williams' sentence.
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