UPDATE: Gerald Grillet-Tinner has been found guilty for both counts.
The trial of 59-year-old Orcas Island High School teacher Gerald Grillet-Tinner, who is accused of having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, has been underway since June 13.
Grillet-Tinner is being charged with two counts of Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree which, according to Washington state legislature, applies when the accused is the teacher of a registered student under the age of 21 and is at least five years older than the student. He is being represented by Robert D. Butler and Emily Beschen of Bellingham, Wash.
On the the last day of the trial, June 23, the defense presented the majority of its case. Robert Matheson, an employee of Rosario Resort and Spa, testified that the defendant used the hot tub facilities around 9 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2015 which is in contradiction to the victim’s testimony about alleged sexual acts occurring during that time. He testified that Grellet-Tinner was a regular at the spa facilities, using the hot tub about three days a week.
During cross-examination, Prosecuting Attorney Randall Gaylord asked Matheson if he was sure it was Oct. 4 as he had originally stated to Gaylord in a telephone interview that he saw the defendant on a different date. He also presented Matheson with a sign-in sheet for the spa that did not list Grellet-Tinner’s name on that date.
The defendant took the stand and testified that he did not have sexual intercourse with the victim. He admitted to inviting her into his home to grade papers, attending a party with her and her family and kayaking. On Oct. 4, 2015, the day of the barbecue and kayaking trip, he testified that in the evening, they returned to his house and the victim went inside to change out of her wet clothes while he put the kayaks away. She then drove home, and the defendant said he went to Rosario Resort and Spa, where he used the hot tub and had a conversation with Matheson.
During the subsequent week, Grellet-Tinner testified that the student was listening in on his phone calls and knocking on his door late at night. He called the police on Oct. 11 at 1:30 a.m. to report harassment, and Detective Jack Wilsey responded to the call. The defendant told Wilsey that the student had come to his house late that night, and as he was blocking the door, she grabbed his genitals, tried to kiss him and was “out of control.” He testified that he was barring her entrance because he had been told by the Orcas School Superintendent and Principal to not have any contact with students or parents during the sexual misconduct investigation.
Wilsey testified earlier in the day that no further action was taken after the initial call from Grellet-Tinner on Oct. 11.
The defense filed a motion to reconsider the original motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the victim was not a full-time student and was enrolled in the OASIS alternative learning program and only attended classes at Orcas High School. Washington state statute requires that the offending teacher must be in the same school as the student.
Gaylord told Judge Donald Eaton that the motions to dismiss should have been made before the trial and that it was unfair to present them right before closing statements. He rebutted that the Washington Administrative Code judges full-time enrollment status on the student’s first four days of school and that the victim’s school transcript as well as previous testimony from school personnel show she was a full-time student in the high school at the time of the alleged misconduct.
Judge Eaton denied the defense’s motion to dismiss with the belief that the legislature did not intend to “parse out this kind of distinction” in its effort to protect students from sexual misconduct. After a recess, the defense filed a motion for a mistrial. It was also denied.
The jury will hear closing arguments this afternoon and deliver a verdict on Monday.