Kent schools instructor charged with student sexual assault

June 15, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A suburban Seattle JROTC program instructor was charged this week with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old student, records show.

Court documents say Joseph A. Byrd, 45, used his position of authority to “invite” the student to an empty portable classroom used as a storage room at Kentwood High School, where he assaulted her, The Seattle Times reported.

He’s accused of third-degree rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

The school’s principal called police May 4 to report allegations of an inappropriate relationship between the student and Byrd, an instructor with the school’s Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

A King County sheriff’s detective spoke with the student, who said she talked about “life and stuff” with Byrd and that they began texting April 29, according to court documents.

Cameras showed Byrd disabling the alarm on a portable classroom that day, propping the door open, waiting for the student and following her into the room, according to probable cause documents.

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Another student told a different instructor about the text messages, according to court documents. The Kent School District suspended him May 4, records say.

District officials declined to say whether Byrd remains a district employee.

He was arrested last Thursday, booked into the King County Jail and released on bond. It wasn’t immediately known if Byrd has a lawyer to comment on the charges.