A 43-year-old Olympia man who teaches at Salish Middle School in northeast Lacey has been placed on administrative leave following his arrest in Lewis County, North Thurston Public Schools announced in an email to parents Wednesday morning.
Teacher Justin Hinchcliffe was identified by law enforcement on Tuesday. Twelve individuals, including Hinchcliffe and a second Thurston County man, were taken into custody Nov. 13 as part of a multi-agency operation known as "net nanny" that targets those allegedly involved in the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
"Due to the nature of the allegations, Mr. Hinchcliffe has been placed on administrative leave and will not be at school pending the conclusion of the criminal investigation and any subsequent district investigation," Superintendent Debra Clemens said in the email to parents.
The arrest was not related to any event or incident on school grounds, nor did it involve any North Thurston students, as far as the district knows, Clemens added.
"I know this is distressing news for our school community; we are committed to the safety and well-being of all our students," Clemens said. "While I cannot comment more specifically on personnel matters or legal proceedings, we are here to help. Please reach out to your school principal if we can be of assistance to you or your students."
When Hinchliffe was arrested on Nov. 13, he reportedly told officers he used to be a high school teacher and was currently a middle school teacher, adding, “he never intended to have sex with the 13-year-old female and was just trying to save her but did not call police to tell them,” according to court documents. He informed the court on Monday that he intended to resign his teaching position to take care of this case.
His bail was set at $75,000.
The other Thurston County man was identified as Douglas R. Clark, 45, of Rochester.