A former substitute teacher in Oregon has been convicted for sexual abuse of a student in a criminal case that languished for over six years before a sexual abuse survivor filed her own civil lawsuit against the offender. On Friday, December 14, 2018, Dale Arnold Buckendahl was convicted by a Multnomah County jury on evidence that he put his hand up a third-grader’s skirt and touched the victim’s leg in a sexual manner.
Oregon Substitute Teacher Convicted Of Sexual Abuse
Buckendahl was initially reported to law enforcement in 2011, but did not face criminal charges at the time. That year, a child abuse response squad for Multnomah County forwarded the case on to prosecutors for further consideration, but the prosecutors sent the case back to detectives for more investigation.
The case languished until 2017, when the student filed a civil lawsuit against the Reynolds School District, accusing Buckendahl of molesting her. In court documents, the young woman, now 19 years old, says she was sexually abused by Buckendahl multiple times as a third grader at Alder Elementary School in 2008.
Civil Suit Reinvigorates Criminal Case
The plaintiff described how Buckendahl groomed her and several other female students, paying extra attention to them, hugging them and touching them routinely. Then, after he had groomed the girl, Buckendahl reached up her skirt on multiple occasions between April and May 2018 to touch her genitals.
Substitute’s Past Indiscretions Laid Bare
Legal filings explain that Buckendahl had a previous history of inappropriate conduct. Attorneys for the girl say that the Beaverton School District issued a formal letter of reprimand to the substitute teacher, citing him for exchanging inappropriate emails with students, offering them gifts, sending them cards and engaging in inappropriate physical contact with a former elementary school student.
Contacted by Oregon Live, a spokesperson for the Beaverton School District confirmed that Buckendahl worked for the district between August 31, 1998 and August 20, 2003, before being terminated. She would not disclose the reason for his termination.
Teacher’s License Suspended After Misconduct
But the civil lawsuit continues to claim that, after his citation by the Beaverton School District, Buckendahl’s teaching license was suspended for 30 days by the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission. He was placed on probation for four years, in part because the Commission learned that he had accessed sexually explicit content on his work computer.
Buckendahl was required to undergo a psychological evaluation to determine whether or not he was suitable to work with children and teenagers. He was also ordered to participate in a program on the appropriate boundaries to maintain with students.
School District Accused Of Negligence
Due to his past history of misconduct, the plaintiff in her lawsuit argues that supervisors at the Reynolds School District should not have allowed him to have unsupervised contact with school children. She claims the district knew or should have known that he was abusing young girls, in part due to his prior violations.
While the civil case has not yet been decided, its effects have already been felt in the criminal justice system. The lawsuit filed by the young student inspired prosecutors in Multnomah County to reopen their investigation into Buckendahl, leading to an arrest of the former substitute teacher last December.
Buckendahl was convicted on Friday in connection to inappropriately touching a female student in 2008. He was acquitted of a second charge of sexual abuse. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 2, 2019.