CSD faces lawsuit over Figley employment

The Colville School District is currently embroiled in a civil lawsuit with the parents and guardians of three children who were molested by former Colville School District counselor Craig Figley. The suit, filed under aliases to protect the identification of the minors involved, alleges that the district was negligent in their duty to protect students by not properly monitoring Figley or the technology the district provided him. According to court documents filed in Eastern Washington Division of U.S. Federal District Court, Figley was working for the Colville School District in 2000 when the district issued him a laptop for work purposes. During his employment, Figley used the laptop to download pornography of adults and children that he showed to students to “begin a process of grooming children for his own sexual gratification.” The suit asserts that had the district installed software to prevent misuse of the laptop and if the laptop had been properly monitored by the district, it would not have been a tool for exploiting students. The documents also argue that if the district knew about the pornography on Figley’s computer they could have terminated his employment. Documents filed in the case also assert that when complaints about Figley were turned over to law enforcement, Colville School District employee and Fort Colville School Principal Clayton Allen called Figley to warn him that there was a pending search warrant of his residence and school computers. As a result, Figley attempted to destroy evidence that would implicate the district in his wrongdoing, but forensic computer retrieval discovered the materials, said court records. Figley was tried and sentenced in May of 2010 on three counts of child molestation and one charge of possessing materials showing minors in a sexual act. He received a minimum of 14 years in prison that could be extended to life when he goes before a review board for sex offenders. The lawsuit is asking for damages, including medical expenses; compensation for pain, anguish, stress, inconvenience and disability, as well as lost wages and earnings. The suit does not request any specific monetary figure, but asks that damages be determined at trial. The school district’s lawyer, Michael McFarland of the Evans, Craven and Lackie law firm in Spokane, said if the district loses the suit, the loss will be paid out by the district’s insurance policy. The suit is currently scheduled for trial on Oct. 29, 2012.