The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Rebecca Gourley
Reporter 

School worker fired, arrested on sex charges

 

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Cheri Powers

A Goldendale School District (GSD) employee was fired Thursday, April 26 after allegations surfaced about her alleged sexual involvement with a student.

Cheri Powers of Goldendale, 44, was arrested by Goldendale Police Department last week and was subsequently charged with sexual misconduct in the first degree.

According to GSD Superintendent Mark Heid, “A community member reported to the GSD that a high school paraeducator may be having inappropriate interactions with a high school student.” Heid says that when he learned of the allegations, April 16, the district immediately contacted Canfield Insurance Group, the district’s insurance provider, to begin an investigation. Powers’s position was terminated after the investigation was complete, and Heid informed Goldendale Police Department (GPD) of their findings.

According to court documents, the victim, a 16-year-old student at Goldendale High School gave detailed information about the incident to GPD Lieutenant Reggie Bartkowski in an interview.

Powers made a preliminary appearance in Superior Court Friday, April 27. She was released and ordered not to have any contact with the minor, or leave Washington or Oregon.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Katharine Matthews told The Sentinel, “It is definitely an ongoing investigation and there’s a lot that’s not known.”

Powers was a coach for the cross-country and track teams and was involved in the special education program at the high school.

The initial connection between the minor, whose name was not released, and Powers was not apparent to the investigators because he does not participate in cross-country or track, and is not involved in the special education program. “We were really struggling to find the connection,” stated Heid.

The student has not returned to school but Heid hopes that the school district will be able to provide counseling to him.

“This is tragic; this is completely unacceptable,” added Heid. “As soon as we found out, we moved to termination. We’re going to do whatever it takes to help the young man get through it.”

An attempt was made to contact Powers for comment, but she has not returned the phone call.

The charge of sexual misconduct in the first degree is a class “C” Felony, and holds a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Powers’s arraignment is set for May 7.

 

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