A 26-year-old Bellingham man admitted to molesting a 13-year-old boy he met through the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Ryan Thomas Tenorio High pleaded guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court Tuesday to one count of second-degree child molestation. His sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.
In June 2016, a then 13-year-old boy’s mother called Bellingham Police to report her son had been sexually assaulted by High.
High had met the boy and had been assigned to be his mentor as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which helps support children by pairing them with volunteer adults through one-on-one mentoring relationships, according to court records. The local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter closed in 2013 because of financial strains.
High quit the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in 2011 so he could be a foster parent to the boy for roughly eight months while the boy’s mother was regaining custody, court records show. High continued to be close friends with the family.
In June 2016, the boy was playing at Bloedel Donovan Park with friends. When his friends left, he called High for a ride. The boy had texted his mother to let her know he was with High, but the messages never went through, court records state.
High took the boy back to his apartment where the boy showered and was given clean clothes. The two gave each other back massages before High molested the boy. The boy told High to stop multiple times, according to court records.
High took the boy home, who immediately told his mother.
The boy told police during an interview the incident scared him because he “spent a lot of time” with High, and that this had never happened before, according to court documents.
High and the boy have not had contact since the incident.
The former director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program could not immediately be reached for comment.