Settlement reached in case against city, brought by victim of child rape

The victim won the money, in part, because the city did not contact Child Protective Services quickly enough.

The city of Enumclaw settled with the victim of child rape for $400,000 last October.

The city of Enumclaw settled with the victim of child rape for $400,000 last October.

A claim filed against the city of Enumclaw — a legal challenge that first sought $6 million in damages and was later expanded to $18 million — was eventually settled for $400,000.

A portion of the money has been disbursed, more will be paid in October of this year and half the total will be in the form of monthly payments beginning July 1, 2019.

The claim stems from an unsettling story of a 30-something man and an early-teen girl. The sordid tale evolved into an admission of guilt and eventual prison sentence for the perpetrator and, finally, a claim of wrongdoing against the city of Enumclaw and, in particular, its police department.

The tale began when a citizen contacted Enumclaw police in early 2015, reporting a co-worker had been bragging about having a sexual relationship with a minor. An investigation later resulted in the May 14, 2015, arrest of city resident Ryan A. Rothermel. He was initially charged with 20 counts of third-degree child rape, a Class C felony. He eventually pleaded guilty to three counts and was handed a prison term. He was 37 at the time of his March 2016 sentencing.

The action against Enumclaw was based on a claim that the city did not act quickly enough to protect the young victim. That’s where the story took its legal turn.

City Administrator Chris Searcy admits the city did not contact Child Protective Services within an established timeframe. But the reason, he said, is that investigators had to track down the victim, who was 14 at the time. It wasn’t as simple as if the victim herself had come forward, Searcy said.

Additionally, there were initial denials that anything inappropriate had occurred between Rothermel and the girl. At the time, Rothermel was living in an Enumclaw home with his girlfriend; the victim and her mother were tenants at the residence.

Once the legal claim was filed, it was turned over to the Washington Cities Insurance Authority, which represents the city in such matters. The firm is used by a consortium of cities, towns and other legal entities throughout the state, Searcy said.

“They make the decisions,” Searcy explained, noting that the WCIA settled the case. “They seek our input be we defer to them.”

Searcy said the city was adamant that a portion of the settlement – which was accepted by the court in October 2017 – be put in a trust, becoming available to the young victim once she turns 18.

“We wanted to make sure the victim gets the money,” he said.

Final details of the settlement show 40 percent, or $160,000, going to the Civil Rights Justice Center, the Seattle-based firm that represented the victim. Another $20,000 is guaranteed to be paid on Oct. 27 and, finally, payments of $2,016 will be made monthly into a trust. That sum will be paid for eight years, beginning in 22019, with money forwarded to the victim.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

King County releases annual count of people experiencing homelessness

About 5 percent more people were experiencing homelessness over last year, but the increase doesn’t appear to indicate an overall growing trend.

Man drowns during fishing trip to Deep Lake

Both the father and son were thrown from their boat, but the child made it to shore.

The Red Lion Inn at 1 South Grady Way in Renton is being used as temporary site to relocate individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo.
Renton battles King County over temporary shelter at Red Lion Hotel

County officials believe emergency health order will supersede city’s move.

A train route that would shuttle people between Eastern and Western Washington could tie in with the proposed ultra-high-speed rail between B.C. and Portland. Photo courtesy RobertStafford/Pixabay.com
State receives King County to Spokane rail study

It would take about eight and a half hours to reach the Inland Empire from Puget Sound.

Assessments are in, Pierce County property values continue to climb

Properties in Orting saw the greatest percentage increase over last year

Courtesy of Mountain View Fire and Rescue
Mountain View Fire and Rescue seeks levy on Aug. 4 primary ballot

Service area includes unincorporated King County near the cities of Auburn, Enumclaw and Kent.

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Enumclaw, Black Diamond police blotter | June 24 – July 6

Garbage bears, racing jet skis, and illegal fireworks.

Owner of proposed Enumclaw Recycling Center ordered to close Auburn location

King County has been trying to shutter the Buckley Recycle Center for nearly 15 years, and claims the lack of progress at the Enumclaw site shows the owner has little interest in complying with county regulations.

Most Read