Adult Survivor Files Lawsuit for Child Sex Abuse by Teacher

Our client “C.A.” filed a lawsuit for child sex abuse by her teacher. Her fifth-grade teacher at Captain Strong Primary School in Battle Ground, Washington molested her from 2001 to 2002. She is suing Battle Ground Public Schools, alleging her teacher Thomas Henry Moody groomed and sexually abused her when she was approximately 10 years old. Moody was convicted later of sex crimes involving several other children.

Battle Grounds, WA - where our client was sexually abused by her 5th grade teacher

Battle Ground, WA


We filed a lawsuit for child sex abuse last week on C.A.’s behalf in Clark County Superior Court. The lawsuit identifies our client by initials, which courts typically allow in cases involving child sexual abuse. She attended Captain Strong in Battle Ground as a fifth grader before moving and changing schools. She is now in her 30s. Washington law has an extended statute of limitations that allows survivors to file lawsuits for child sex abuse when they are adults.

Thomas Henry Moody was convicted in 2005 in Clark County Superior Court of six counts of communicating with minors for immoral purposes. That criminal case involved several children, but not our client. Moody was later convicted in December 2007 of possessing child pornography while on probation.

According to records we have, Moody worked for the Battle Ground school district from 1976 until his first conviction in 2005. C.A. alleges in her lawsuit that the school district was “grossly negligent in the supervision, control, protection and care of the students, including [C.A.], entrusted to it.”

In a newspaper article in The Columbian, Rita Sanders, spokeswoman for Battle Ground Public Schools said the district can’t comment on legal matters but said, “The case is being handled by Clear Risk, the third-party administrator for the district’s schools insurance association.”


Moody molested C.A. by repeatedly touching her breasts and nipples over her clothes, rubbing her lower back, and pulling her close to him by her waist, such that she could not get away. Often this abuse occurred in the front of the class, by his desk, in view of other students, on school premises. C.A. also witnessed Moody engaging in similar behavior with other female students in her class.


Before he molested C.A., Moody worked for the school district as a fourth-grade teacher at Maple Grove Elementary School in Battle Ground. In 1998, at least three students reported to a school official at Maple Grove that Moody had touched them inappropriately. The school district put Moody on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, but never reported the allegations to police or Child Protective Services. Moody was later reinstated as a teacher. In around 2000, the district transferred him to Captain Strong.

During the same school year that Moody groomed and molested C.A., he also sexually abused another student at Captain Strong school. That student filed an earlier civil lawsuit for child sex abuse, E.W. v. Battle Ground School District #119, et al., U.S. Dist. Ct. (W. Dist. WA) 3:06-cv-05253-BHS. The district settled the civil lawsuit with the E.W. in January 2008.

Apparently, in the spring of 2002, several girls reported to another fifth-grade teacher at Captain Strong that Moody was sexually abusing E.W. The school took no action in response to these reports. Moody continued to abuse E.W., according to the allegations she made in her lawsuit.

Finally, in 2004, several other girls reported to school officials at Captain Strong that Moody had touched them inappropriately. No one at the school or district notified law enforcement. What’s more, in June 2004, the superintendent of the Battle Ground School District filed a report with the Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction. In that report, the Battle Ground superintendent complained that Cynthia Larson, the principal at Captain Strong Elementary School, had violated Washington’s mandatory reporting laws by failing to report Moody’s 2002 sexual abuse of E.W. to the proper authorities. Larson was suspended from her position.


Following the 2004 criminal investigation, Moody was charged by Clark County with ten counts of Child Molestation in the First Degree. Moody made a please deal and in 2005 entered plea to six counts of “Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes.” The counts to which he pled guilty involved E.W., as well as students who complained to Defendant District officials in 1998 and 2004. The criminal case did not involve C.A.


Moody’s sexual abuse of C.A. and other elementary students at Maple Grove and Captain Strong schools may not seem “that bad” when you first hear about it. He didn’t drag girls off and rape them. He wasn’t violent. He wasn’t even mean. But when you think about it, fourth and fifth graders are only nine and ten years old! Touching their breasts and nipples, even over their shirts, was wrong, and it was confusing and scary to them. It violated the relationship of trust between a teacher and a student. Doing it in front of the class was a power play – a show of control – that told those little girls he could do whatever he wanted and they couldn’t stop him. That was a bad lesson for girls to learn and carry with them.

What struck us was how similar Moody’s conduct was to that of Catlin Gabel teacher Richardson “Dick” Shoemaker. We represent several former Catlin Gabel students who were molested by Dick Shoemaker when they were in his fifth-grade class at Catlin Gabel. Just like Moody, Shoemaker had girls come to the front of the class where he groped them, over or under their clothes, under the guise of helping them with their classwork. We know from working with these former students, now grown women, how that early violation of trust can lead to a lifetime of self-doubt, insecurity, shame, and further victimization.

It is because we see the effects of this kind of “minor” abuse that we take these cases so seriously. Schools need to take every report of abuse – even if only described as “touching” or “bothering” or whatever kids say – as a genuine problem. If the Battleground School District had responded appropriately to the first reports of Moody touching girls, as mandatory reporters are supposed to do, our client C.A. and other girls would not have been molested.


If you have any information about Thomas Henry Moody’s molestation of girls when he was a teacher, we would like to talk to you. Please call our office at 503-616-5007 or send us an email through our secure contact page.

Likewise, if you or someone you love was sexually abused by a trusted authority figure and you have questions about your options, contact us.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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