Former Student Details Alleged Abuse by Teacher at Seventh-day Adventist School
By Jessica Cejnar
Del Norte Triplicate
September 1, 2018
A former student at the Crescent City Seventh-day Adventist Christian School is speaking out about her alleged abuse at the hands of a teacher who was convicted in 2016 of two counts of raping and molesting two children in Sequim, Washington.
Somerset Morgan was 10 years old and in the fifth grade when she became Douglas John Allison’s student at the Crescent City Seventh-day Adventist School in 2010. In an email to the Triplicate, Morgan, who currently lives in Salem, Oregon said Allison also lived in the same apartment complex, just up the road from her family.
Allison pleaded guilty in 2016 to molesting two students in the classroom while he was a principal and teacher at Mountain View Christian School in Sequim. He was sentenced to 26.5 years in prison, according to a civil complaint filed in court against the Western Washington Corporation of Seventh Day Adventists.
The lawsuit names Allison and was filed in King County, Washington on behalf of the parents of a student who was 10 years old when Allison assaulted them. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in October, Mischelle Davis, director of operations and communications for Seattle-based Davis Law Group, told the Triplicate in July.
The complaint also cites investigations by the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office into two reports that Allison had put his hands down a student’s pants while he was a teacher in Crescent City.
Morgan said Allison began touching her on the shoulder with pats or gentle rubs starting her first day at school with her mother in the room. This continued for several weeks, she said, before Allison began moving his hand lower down her back. Morgan said Allison would help her with school work and as she leaned over the table, if the hem on her shirt showed the skin above her pants, he would rub his hands down to her waistband.
“He used his phone as bait a lot,” Morgan said. “He would offer for you to play Fruit Ninja or Bejeweled at recess and then sit next to you and put his hands on your inner thigh, lower back/butt, or pretend to tickle you everywhere.”
Morgan said the first time she remembers Allison touching her private area through her pants was when her eraser fell off her desk into her crotch and he grabbed it for her.
“We had a library that had windows you could only see out of and two doors. One was locked and the other led to the classroom,” she said. “I was always good at English and finished my assignments early and he would ask me to go organize the books. He touched me a lot in there. It’s hard for me to think about or remember. I told him no one time and he got so offended and hurt acting and almost cried. He said ‘if you don’t want me to touch you please just tell me. I would never want to annoy you’ and somehow ended up making me feel guilty for not wanting him to caress me everywhere.”
Morgan said Allison also touched her in his classroom, saying he put his hands in her underwear while talking to another student “like nothing in the world was happening.”
At one point, Morgan said she was made to fill out an anonymous survey that included questions about bullying and sexual abuse. She said responded to the survey by answering that a teacher had inappropriately touched her. Later that day, Morgan said, Allison pulled her aside at recess and yelled at her about her responses to the anonymous survey.
Morgan said Allison, who lived in the same apartment complex, would also try to get her to sit with him while she was walking home from a friend’s house.
“When I didn’t or I ignored him, he would be passive aggressive at school,” Morgan said, adding that Allison knew her family and her friends’ parents. “When I did go over there, he would make me sit on him and he would tickle me and put his hands up my shirt and down my pants. While he was doing it he would ask if my older sister was doing OK, if my parents were really divorcing, how I was; stupid things like that. He tried to make me think he cared.”
Morgan said she did tell her parents about Allison’s alleged abuse, but they didn’t believe her. She said she spoke out a second time in a note that she wrote and got a few of her classmates to sign. According to Morgan, the note asked “why do you get us in trouble for wrestling in recess, but you’re allowed to touch me whenever?” Morgan said she put it on Allison’s desk.
“He blew up and cussed at us in the classroom saying we were all disrespectful,” Morgan said. “He also took me and three girls older than me into the library and asked us why we would say that and which one of us did and explained how much trouble he could get in. They all cried, but I wouldn’t sit at the table with him and them and I didn’t cry. I told him I wrote it and I still meant it. He yelled and screamed, but he put his resignation in and moved out of the state less than two weeks later.”
Morgan said she still has severe anxiety and trauma from her experience. She said she also feels guilt because she feels that if she handled it differently, “those other little girls wouldn’t have had it happen too.”
“It hurts me so bad that they feel and are going to feel how I do,” Morgan said.
Morgan said Allison moved from Washington to Alaska to Crescent City and back to Washington teaching at small Seventh-day Adventist schools. All of Allison’s belongings were in boxes in his garage and his house was sparsely furnished from moving so frequently, Morgan said.
The lawsuit filed against the Western Washington Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists, which oversees Mountain View Christian School, accuses the church of not investigating Allison’s past in California despite the abuse allegations. It also includes accuses the church of negligence and failure to prevent the “ongoing and preventable molestation” of the plaintiff’s child.
“We know he did (abuse) at least two girls, including my client up in Sequim,” said Christopher Davis, founder of the Davis Law Group, the legal firm spearheading the lawsuit. “We know about the student that moved up here from California and went to one of the church schools in Renton. I don’t know if there’s others (victims) down in California. We think there’s probably others in California, but we’re just not aware of them at this point.”
The civil complaint includes an April 5, 2016 letter regarding Allison from Georgia C. England, social worker at the Del Norte County Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Welfare Branch, to Amy Bundy, a detective with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
In her letter, England cites two child welfare cases, both sexual abuse evaluations in Del Norte County that involve Allison.
In one case, reported to the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office in December 2014, the reporting party alleged that Allison had put his hands down the front of a student’s pants “on many occasions.” The teacher did this multiple times when the student was in the fourth- through sixth-grades with the most recent occurring in 2012, according to the report.
England’s letter cites another report from Jan. 25, 2016 in which a student alleged to a third party that Allison had put his hands down her pants. According to England’s letter, the reporting party in the January 2016 case stated that Allison claimed he had put his hands on the student’s back and that his fingertips were below her waistband. The student disclosed to another party that his hands had gone down the front of her pants, according to England’s letter. This alleged incident occurred in 2014, according to England’s letter.
The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office had turned over the results of their investigation to the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office during Dale Trigg’s tenure.
Del Norte County District Attorney Katherine Micks told the Triplicate in July that her office has not filed charges against Allison, but hasn’t rejected the investigation. The case is still under review, Micks said in July. The Micks could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The pastor at the Crescent City Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mason Philpot, also could not be reached for comment on Friday.