Ex-Prosser mayor accused of sex with teen; details revealed

Ex-Prosser mayor accused of sex with teen; details revealed

Credit: File photo

Former Prosser, WA mayor Linda Lusk.

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by Associated Press / JOHN TRUMBO - Tri-City Herald

NWCN.com

Posted on September 2, 2010 at 7:23 AM

KENNEWICK, Wash. -  The relationship between the former Prosser mayor and a 14-year-old boy that allegedly culminated in a sexual encounter at the woman's home in April remained a secret known only to a group of Prosser High School students for a month.

But once the boy's coach learned May 31 that the freshman athlete had bragged to fellow team members about the encounter with Linda Lusk, detectives quickly investigated the case.

Benton County sheriff's detectives' investigative reports obtained by the Herald this week say the boy played along with sexting initiated by Lusk, 49, going with her behind locked doors at her home April 27, two blocks from the high school.

Witnesses told detectives the boy had told them Lusk allegedly removed his clothing and performed a sex act with him in a bedroom during the school lunch hour.

But the encounter was interrupted after a few minutes when he received a text message and returned to school.

Detectives learned from others on the sports team that the boy started telling friends that same day about his meeting with the wife of the high school principal, Kevin Lusk.

More than 200 pages of records released by Benton County Superior Court Judge Carrie Runge had the names of the boy and all witnesses blacked out. And the Herald has a policy not to publish the name of anyone who reports being a sexual assault victim.

The court documents indicate the allegations were so unbelievable and shocking to Prosser School District officials that initially they didn't know how to react.

"These are really good friends of ours. They're friends of my family. And, and I just feel sick," said the coach quoted in investigative reports. He was the first person to bring the allegations to school officials.

The athletic director equally was distressed.

"I feel sick. I'm gonna have to, I mean I have to, turn this in. ... Umm, I don't know who to talk to. I don't know what to do," the athletic director, who also is vice principal at Prosser, told detectives in an interview June 10. He also was the first person to bring the matter directly to Kevin Lusk.

Police records indicate Kevin Lusk had a vague admission from his wife a week before that interview but he didn't know any details.

"I'm just, I was destroyed. How do you tell your buddy that?" the athletic director told detectives.

The athletic director said he spent all day June 3 pondering what to do.

"Who do I contact? ... I didn't want to call the kid in and do an investigation or anything like that," he told officers.

Later, the athletic director called Ray Tolcacher, district superintendent, to tell him he wanted no part of the process.

"I said I don't want any piece of this. I don't want any information. ... I know these people," he said in recounting the conversation for detectives.

The teen apparently had told as many as a dozen teammates and friends as the relationship allegedly continued through text messages and explicit cell phone photos reportedly provided at the boy's request.

A half-dozen teen boys told detectives the boy shared the photos.

Linda Lusk also allegedly invited the boy to her women's apparel store in Prosser, but the boy said he opted to be with his friends.

The boy's coach told detectives the first he heard about the matter was at the team awards banquet May 31.

Teammates cajoled the boy to tell his story to the coach.

"As soon as he showed up (they said), hey, you gotta tell Coach your story. It's awesome," the coach told investigators.

The detectives' report continues:

Boy: You know Linda Lusk, right?

Coach: Yeah, of course.

Boy: She's been text messaging me and sending photographs.

Coach: What kind of photographs?

Boy: You know coach, like bad kind ...

The coach then told detectives he didn't want to know any more.

"That was enough. I've known Linda for 20-some-odd years. At that point I didn't really want to know exactly what, what had happened," he said.

But the boy continued.

"Most of the team was there (listening) by the time he was finishing the story," the coach told detectives.

The next day, the coach told the athletic director, who then prepared to make an official report.

The coach recounted to detectives their discussion:

AD: You absolutely have to report this. I need the kid's name (and) the woman's name. Then we'll go from there.

Coach: I was like well that's the crap deal, you know. It's Linda Lusk and (boy's name).

AD: Wow, oh, OK. Write up a report ... as soon as you can. ... You did the right thing.

The coach told detectives Linda Lusk called him later that day concerned that the story might become generally known.

He said he told her, "If you are worried about this and it's not true, then don't be texting the kid. That way it just looks worse."

Later that day, the coach spoke with the boy.

In his statement to detectives, he said, "(The boy is) like, 'Coach don't worry. I'm telling everybody it's not true.' He's like, 'This is embarrassing.' He's like, 'This is getting out of hand.' "

"He's like, 'I know, Coach, this is getting out of hand so I'm telling people that it didn't happen. I'm telling them that, ummm, (two friends) made it up. It's no big deal.' "

The coach wrote up his report to the athletic director that night and turned it in the next morning, unsigned.

As school officials struggled with how to handle the issue, one father of another team member went straight to Prosser police two days after the team banquet.

The father, who is a Washington State Patrol trooper, told police the story his son told him.

Prosser police asked the Benton County sheriff to take over the investigation the next day.

In the next seven days, detectives interviewed a dozen witnesses, including most of the boy's teammates and some of their parents, the coach, the athletic director, the Prosser School District superintendent, Linda Lusk, the alleged victim and his parents.

Linda Lusk was charged with felony third-degree child molestation June 9. She has pleaded innocent and her trial is set Sept. 27.
 

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