A Bellingham preschool teacher was arrested Thursday for allegedly exploiting a now 23-year-old man’s mental health issues to conceal nearly two decades of sexual abuse.
Ronald Lynn Guier, 40, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation, first-degree incest, second-degree rape and witness tampering. If convicted, Guier could face life in prison.
He is currently being held in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Guier is a paraeducator and preschool teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School and previously worked at a Bellingham daycare..
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He was hired in 2014 as a paraeducator and had been teaching in Roosevelt Elementary's special education preschool program since January, according to Jackie Brawley, a spokeswoman for Bellingham Schools. Guier supported the school’s behavior specialists and worked with students who had challenging behaviors, Brawley said.
He has been placed on paid administrative leave and the school is working with its legal counsel to determine the next steps. Roosevelt Principal Tom Gresham sent an email to parents Friday morning alerting them to Guier’s arrest.
Brawley said the Bellingham Police investigation doesn’t involve Bellingham public school students.
Prior to taking the job with the school district, Guier worked as a teacher at Blossom Childcare and Learning Center. In a statement on the business’ website, Guier said he was part of the Blossom community for 10 years, as a teacher and parent. That statement is no longer on Blossom's website.
"Mr. Guier has not been employed with us for five years. Like so many others in our community, we are shocked by the news, and our hearts go out to his family. These allegations do not involve any Blossom students," administrators for Blossom said in a prepared statement.
Years of abuse
In 2007, Bellingham police investigated a Child Protective Services report that a then-12-year-old boy was sexually abused by Guier when he was around 7 years old, according to court documents read Friday afternoon in Whatcom County Superior Court.
At the time of the disclosure, the boy was in a residential in-patient mental health treatment center. The disclosure was overheard by a staff member who heard the boy tell his mother about the abuse.
The boy, who had multiple mental health diagnoses at the time, had spent time in several juvenile mental health treatment centers. An investigation was done, but the case was ultimately dropped due to insufficient evidence, the records state.
On April 6, Guier attempted to commit suicide. He left a note for his wife confessing that he took advantage of the boy’s mental health vulnerabilities and had been sexually abusing the boy since he was 7, records state.
The note went on to say Guier manipulated the boy into recanting his statement in the 2007 case.
During an interview with investigators, Guier said the sexual acts were sporadic throughout the years and he again began having sex with the now 23-year-old man in 2017.
Guier also told investigators that it was time for the man “to be heard because he was telling the truth,” about the sexual abuse, according to court records.
When a friend of the man learned of the sexual abuse and threatened to tell police, Guier paid the friend around $2,300 to keep him from reporting the abuse to police, the records state.
When detectives interviewed the man, he told detectives the abuse began when he was 7 or 8 and occurred in several houses and in both of the mental health hospitals where he was a patient.
The man said from ages 13 to 17 there was little to no sexual abuse, but it eventually started again. There was another lapse when the man turned 18, and the sexual abuse later turned to rape, records show.
The man told investigators he felt conflicted because “he loves Ronald and doesn’t want to get him in trouble, but also wanted the abuse to stop. He said he never said no because of his mental health.
"He said Ronald had told him since he was a child that if he told, his mother would be devastated … and people wouldn’t believe him because of his mental health issues,” records state.
The man said he recanted his 2007 statement because of those issues.
A sexual assault protection order has been issued in the case.
The alleged victim in this case was convicted in 2016 for a child sex offense, according to court records.