After an investigation by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and an outside investigator retained by the Orcas Island School District, science teacher Dr. Gerald Grellet-Tinner, 59, has been charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor in the first degree, which is a felony.
The alleged sexual encounters occurred with one of his students at Orcas Island High School in early October.
Grellet-Tinner’s bail was posted at $100,000. He posted the money himself and was released. A court date has not yet been set.
Sheriff Ron Krebs explained that although the student was 18 years old, the two had a teacher-student relationship.
“If the student was under 18, the charge would have been rape of a child,” he said.
According to San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord, the state legislature changed the age of a minor (if that person is a student of a teacher) to age 21 – not age 18.
“When there is a student-teacher relationship, there is a special obligation that falls upon a teacher of trust and confidence,” said Gaylord. “This is not the first time this has happened in San Juan County.”
Arraignment will occur on Nov. 6 at 9 a.m. at which time Grellet-Tinner will enter a plea. He is being represented by Lawrence Delay of Friday Harbor. If he doesn’t plead guilty and take a plea offer, a trial will take place within 90 days.
According to the victim’s statement in the certification for probable cause, Grellet-Tinner requested assistance from her to grade class papers. He allegedly told her, “meeting at a public place such as a coffee shop … might draw suspicion” and that it also might “potentially hurt his court case (currently in a custody battle with his wife) because he wasn’t supposed to be seen with a woman in public.” She also said he told her what was happening between them was “chemistry.” The student said she agreed to meet Grellet-Tinner at his home.
The student told police that during her first visit to his house, she was not comfortable with Grellet-Tinner’s request that she join him in his hot tub.
The following day, on Oct. 4, after spending time at a family barbecue and then kayaking together, the two allegedly returned to Grelett-Tinner’s home. The student said in her statement that she liked the way Gerald spoke and looked at her.
After getting into the hot tub and kissing, the victim says Grellet-Tinner told her “this is dangerous” and “you’re a student.” After the first alleged sexual encounter, the student told him that she was “scared and nervous.” According to the student, she and Grellet-Tinner had sex again on Oct. 6.
After she told another teacher about the alleged sexual encounters, School Superintendent Eric Webb was notified.
According to Webb, the district took immediate action as soon as the allegations were made by placing the teacher on administrative leave, notifying the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department and obtaining an investigator. A search warrant was served to Grellet-Tinner at his residence on Orcas Island and investigators removed items that possibly contained DNA evidence.
“At that time we took him into custody,” Krebs said.
This is Grellet-Tinner’s first year as a teacher for Orcas School.
“The district has hired a substitute teacher with a strong background in the sciences who will be working closely with High School Principal Kyle Freeman to provide the best learning experience for our science students,” wrote Webb in a press release.