Charges dropped against ex-Stevens Middle School teacher in child rape case

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Child rape and molestation charges against Stevens Middle School math teacher Paul A. Brinkmann were dismissed Friday, 10 days before his April 15 trial.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor dismissed the charges at the request of county Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ann Lundwall, who said the alleged victim “has clearly and definitively expressed that he does not want to go through with testifying at trial.”

Brinkmann, 47, was arrested March 2, 2012, and charged with two counts of first-degree child molestation, four counts of second-degree rape of a child, three counts of third-degree rape of a child and one count of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion.

Authorities said the alleged victim was not a Stevens Middle School student.

In an interview Friday, Lundwall said if the alleged victim had cooperated, “we definitely were moving forward and taking this to trial.”

Brinkmann, who had pleaded not guilty, has been on administrative leave from his teaching job since his arrest and could not be reached late Friday afternoon for comment.

Port Angeles School Superintendent Jane Pryne also could not be reached late Friday for comment.

'Presumed innocent'

“Under the law, the teacher is presumed innocent,” Pryne said in a written statement after Brinkmann's arrest.

“However, as a precaution, the district has placed the teacher on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.”

Brinkmann's lawyer, Karen Unger of Port Angeles, said Brinkmann hopes to return to teaching.

“He's feeling relieved, as you can imagine, but very frustrated by the process, which took a year, and that there was no evidence, ” Unger said Friday.

While in the Clallam County jail the day after his arrest, Brinkmann had tried to slit his wrist with a comb and was placed on suicide watch, jail Superintendent Ron Sukert said at the time.

Two days later, as he left his initial court appearance, Brinkmann was met with loud applause from a courtroom packed with supporters.

Unger said the only evidence in the case was the alleged victim's statements.

“They had no physical evidence; they had nothing, only the statement of this person,” she said.

Unger added that statements Brinkmann had made to Port Angeles Police Officer Kevin Spencer that were contained in the certificate of probable cause were “taken out of context to make it appear that [Brinkmann] had confessed.”

Could not proceed

In her motion to dismiss, Lundwall said the case could not proceed without the alleged victim's cooperation.

“Since these charges were filed, there has been a backlash from the community against the victim,” Lundwall said.

“Despite this, he has not recanted or changed his statement.

“On the contrary, he still maintains he was abused.

“But at this point, he has clearly and definitively expressed that he does not want to go through with testifying at trial,” Lundwall said.

“In this case, the state is unable to proceed further without the victim's cooperation.

“Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to dismiss.”

Unger said the alleged victim has not been in the Port Angeles community for some of the past year.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 06. 2013 6:37PM
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