UPDATE: The charges against Nathan Buttenfield have been dismissed.
A gym teacher at Highcliff Elementary School in the North Hills School District has been arrested and is facing several charges related to alleged sexual misconduct involving a student. 41-year-old Nathan Buttenfield was arraigned on Tuesday, November 20, and faces charges of indecent assault, institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, and corrupting the morals of a minor.
According to the criminal complaint, Buttenfield inappropriately touched a girl under age 13 during a game in gym class at Highcliff Elementary. The girl told police that Buttenfield had “grabbed her by the hips and, atop her clothing, touched her buttocks and vagina.” She also told police that she tried to get away from Buttenfield, but “he pulled her back to him and said not to go yet.” She said that she only got away when a group of kids came nearby and she slipped off into the group.
The girl first told her parents about the alleged abuse, who then went to the police. Buttenfield turned himself into the police. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 12.
Attorney contributor and school sexual abuse attorney Brian Kent, is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now represents the survivors of sexual assault in civil courts. We’ve asked him for some input into survivors rights and school liability in cases where school employees sexually abuse students:
Teachers are highly respected and vital members of our community, as they help our children learn, grow, and develop brighter futures. But unfortunately, a small handful of teachers and other school employees are sexual predators who use their positions of trust as a means to sexually abuse students. This violation of trust not only traumatizes the student and their family, but the community as a whole.
In many cases of teacher and school employee sexual abuse, the school was negligent in a way that failed to prevent the abuse. Examples of such negligence might include failing to contact law enforcement after complaints of sexual misconduct, hiring an employee without first conducting a background check, and many others. When negligence was a factor in the sexual abuse, the victim and their family may have grounds for a lawsuit against the school district.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a school employee, you can learn more about your legal options for justice by speaking to an experienced sexual abuse survivors attorney.