Wash. teacher says fake choking attack was suicide attempt

KING 5 obtained audio tapes from the Bothell Police interview with Cal Pygott.

A Bothell teacher who said he was assaulted in May told police why he made up the attack.

Woodshop teacher Cal Pygott had claimed he was working on a machine when he was struck in the back of the head and had a zip tie put around his neck. However, police said last week that Pygott admitted to staging the attack.

In police transcripts, the 63-year-old Pygott said he was working on a machine when he put the zip tie around his neck in a suicide attempt.

Pygott told detectives he wanted to commit suicide because of debt and financial difficulties.

After Pygott put the zip tie around his neck, he told detectives he realized he wanted to live and tried to cut it off with wire cutters. The back door was propped open, and Pygott stumbled out into the hallway when a teacher found him and called 911. Pygott said he lied initially to keep his reputation.

“If it somehow looked like it was not me, the legacy, the integrity, and everything else would stay intact,” Pygott told detectives.

It will be up to prosecutors to determine what charges Pygott will face for making up the story, and the Northshore School District placed Pygott on paid administrative leave last week.

Excerpts from the Bothell police interview with Pygott:

“I was working on a machine and I put a zip tie around my neck. Hit myself on the head with a hammer. About three or four times. Was on the floor, got up, realized I wanted to live and took steps to try and get the zip tie off of my neck. Ran outside and another teacher was there and able to take the zip tie off of me.”

When asked why he didn’t tell detectives the truth right away: “Because of the stigma of suicide. Admitting that you’re wrong. Trying to continue the story of someone else having done it. In a nutshell, to try and save face and integrity.”

“You go with the story as long as you can. When the story no longer holds together you have to own up.”

“There was no one else in the shop.”

“Everything was built to take suspicion elsewhere. The back door was propped open, like someone leaving. If the note was there. A reason for someone to have a grudge against me, and throw people off the trail.”

Listen: Cal Pygott confesses to police

“Age old story of finances. I had a bunch of debt…Had a mountain of debt and was scrambling, rob Peter to pay Paul. And it was snowballing. Finally came clean with my wife on it. And was in the process of refinancing the house. The refinancing was going through and everything. And I think I got tired. Financing was going through. That would be taken care of. Had retirement and 401k and so forth. So that things would be stable. And if I wasn’t there the other things would take care of them.”

“It’s kind of like… and you know how I react to things. Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ You’re worth more dead than you are alive. And that would solve some problems.”

“I had a legacy. I had integrity. Don’t anymore. But, if it somehow looked like it was not me, the legacy and the integrity and everything else would stay intact.”

Listen: Cal Pygott explains why he wanted to commit suicide

Copyright 2016 KING


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