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Former substitute teacher charged years later with sex abuse of third-grader

Dale Buckendahl (Mug shot courtesy Multnomah County jail).

A former substitute teacher was indicted earlier this month for allegedly sexually abusing an elementary school girl years ago, utilizing what the girl's lawyer claims are "grooming" behaviors.

Dale Buckendahl, 53, pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree sex abuse in the case on Thursday.

He's accused of inappropriately touching an 8-year-old girl at Alder Elementary School in the Reynolds School District between Aug. 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008.

Officers said the alleged victim first reported the allegations to law enforcement and Oregon's Department of Human Services in 2011.

“We have this brave young woman at 18, who just had a birthday and is just starting to figure out why her life is upside down,” the alleged victim's lawyer, Tom Patton, told KATU News in March after filing a more than $6 million lawsuit against the district.

The alleged victim claims it all started when she was in the third grade.

“He started grooming behaviors ... like rubbing shoulders and giving compliments,” Patton said, adding "grooming" is used to confuse victims. “The grooming behavior creates a fog so they don't know the difference between appropriate affection and inappropriate touching."

Patton says the touching got worse.

“It ultimately resulted in sexual assault that occurred when she was 9, toward the end of her third-grade year,” Patton said.

It's not the first time Buckendahl has been accused of inappropriate conduct.

Oregon's Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) suspended him for a month and put him on four years' probation in 2003 over incidents at Barnes Elementary School in Beaverton.

In a stipulated order, the commission says, "Mr. Buckendahl attempted to use his classroom computer on Oct. 17, 2002 to access sexually explicit materials through the district's internet connection in violation of district policy regarding internet use."

The TSPC also says he inappropriately gave gifts, emailed students and touched a former student.

"Obviously we think there is culpability on behalf of Reynolds School District," said Patton, "given the fact that he obviously had issues and should have been more closely supervised."

Buckendahl stopped working for the Reynolds School District in 2011. His teaching license was revoked in 2014.

He taught at Barnes Elementary from 1998 to 2003. He got his job as a substitute for the Reynolds School District through the Multnomah Educational Service District later that year.

A lawyer for the Reynolds School District did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email requesting comment.

Regarding how long it took to press charges, Sgt. Chris Burley, a spokesman for Portland Police Bureau said, "Investigations that involve juveniles are complex and often times take a longer period of time to investigate than investigations involving adult victims. Once this case has been adjudicated, Family Services Division personnel are able to discuss specifics."

Other schools in which Buckendahl was a substitute teacher

Buckendahl is only accused of criminal charges at Alder Elementary. He subbed at several other local schools. According to the Multnomah Educational Service District, Buckendahl was a substitute teacher at the following schools between 2004 and 2011:

47 days in Centennial between 2004 and 2011

  • Centennial High School; 1 day in 2006, 2 days in 2008, 4 days in 2010, 1 day in 2011
  • Centennial Middle School; 1 day in 2007, 2 days in 2008, 7 days in 2009, 2 days in 2010
  • H. Oliver Intermediate; 1 day in 2004, 4 days in 2010
  • Harold Oliver Primary; 1 day in 2008, 1 day in 2009, 1 day in 2010
  • Lynch Meadows; 1 day in 2006
  • Lynch View; 4 days in 2009
  • Lynch Wood; 1 day in 2005, 2 days in 2009
  • Pleasant Valley; 2 days in 2009, 1 day in 2011
  • Butler Creek; 4 days in 2009

1 day at Corbett Middle School/High School in 2008

  • 46 days in David Douglas between 2005 and 2011
  • David Douglas High School; 1 day in 2008, 4 days in 2009, 3 days in 2010, 1 day in 2011
  • Fir Ridge Campus; 1 day in 2005, 1 day in 2009
  • Alice Ott Middle School; 1 day in 2005, 1 day in 2010, 1 day in 2011
  • Ron Russell Middle School; 1 day in 2011, 1 days in 2006,2 days in 2009, 2 days in 2010, 1 day in 2011
  • Floyd Light Middle School; 1 day in 2005, 1 day in 2009
  • Cherry Park Elementary; 1 day in 2005
  • Earl Boyles Elementary; 1 day in 2004, 1 day in 2005, 2 days in 2008
  • Gilbert Park Elementary; 7 days in 2009
  • Gilbert Heights Elementary; 1 day in 2008, 3 days in 2009
  • Lincoln Park Elementary: 1 day in 2009
  • Menlo Park Elementary; 1 day in in 2009, 1 day in 2011
  • Mill Park Elementary' 1 day in 2009, 1 day in 2010
  • Ventura Park Elementary; 1 day in 2006, 1 day in 2008

15 days in Parkrose between 2004 and 2010

  • Parkrose High School; 2 days in 2004, 3 days in 2008, 2 days in 2009,1 day in 2010
  • Parkrose Middles Shool;3 days in 2010
  • Prescott Elementary; 1 day in 2009
  • Sacramento Elementary; 1 day in 2004, 1 day in 2006
  • Shaver Elementary; 1 day in 2008

3 days in Riverdale between 2006 2009

  • Riverdale Grade School; 1 day in 2006, 2 days in 2009

This story has been updated to include the schools where Buckendahl was a substitute teacher.

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