Former Marin schools superintendent Robert Patrick Raines convicted of misconduct with child
Posted on November 14, 2023     |     Sexual Abuse
Robert Patrick Raines a former Marin County schools superintendent who used to administer the Shoreline Unified School District, could face a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for the crime of annoying or molesting a child.
Marin County sheriff’s deputies arrested Raines in June 2021 on suspicion of committing a felony offense, but that charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor. The 40-year education veteran, was arrested just a few weeks before his scheduled retirement.
On Monday, the jurors reached their verdict about two hours after the three–day trial, which was presided by Judge Beth Jordan. Raines did not testify.
“The defendant was caught red–handed and he could not keep his hands to himself,” prosecutor Katie Panzer declared in her closing argument on Monday.
The trial centered on a 2021 incident when a district employee claimed she entered Raines’ office and saw him inappropriately touch her child. She had brought the child to work while classes were being conducted online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Raines befriended the child, and they bonded over comic books and drawing cartoons in his office.
The woman testified that she believed that she saw Raines place his hand into her child’s shorts pocket. She recalled that he immediately stood up when she announced she was picking up the child.
“I felt completely blindsided,” she said.
The mother later asked the child about Raines’ conduct. The child said Raines placed his hand into the child’s pocket and rubbed the child’s upper leg. She contacted authorities after notifying a few coworkers and the incoming district superintendent, Adam Jennings.
Lauren Patton, a former Marin sheriff’s detective who investigated the case, testified that the child told her similar information about the pocket incident in a recorded interview.
On the day after the incident, the child’s mother confronted Raines in a recorded telephone call and repeatedly accused him of putting his hand in her child’s pocket.
“I feel like I trusted you,” she told Raines in the phone call, which was played in court.
Raines replied that he did not recall placing his hand into the child’s pocket.
The child testified on Thursday, saying Raines reached into a pocket and touched a buttock.
Following his arrest, Raines was placed on administrative leave by the Shoreline school board.
On Thursday, jurors heard about allegations of lewd conduct against Raines when he was principal of Wilson Elementary School in Petaluma during the 2006–2007 school year.
Ellen Lesher, a retired Wilson Elementary teacher, testified that she confronted Raines about having students sit on his lap in his office, and she stated that he broke his promise to stop the practice. She also spoke about an incident where he was accused of applying an ointment to a poison oak rash on a student’s genital area.
“He found it to be humorous, he thought it was funny,” Lesher said about the defendant’s reaction when she addressed the poison oak allegation.
The former Wilson student, now 27, testified on Monday that Raines seemed to be a friend. The witness reported spending time with Raines in his office as a fourth-grader and sitting on the principal’s lap when invited to do so.
The witness said Raines applied calamine lotion to a genital rash. The student came to school with the medication and had it applied at the school office.
“I didn’t think it was a problem, I was just a little kid,” the witness said.
No criminal charges were filed against Raines for the allegations at Wilson Elementary School, but the prosecution used the case to argue there was a pattern to how Raines treated children he showed an unusual interest in.
During his closing argument, defense attorney Charles Dresow said the prosecution failed to prove that Raines was motivated by an abnormal or sexual interest in a child. He said there was no presented evidence to show his client’s mental state.
In her rebuttal, Panzer concluded that a “normal person” like the Marin victim’s mother was troubled by Raines’ conduct, and that the child testified in court about the buttocks contact.
After the verdict was read in court, Panzer complimented the accusers for their bravery in testifying.
“The jury weighed the overwhelming evidence that led to the right conclusion,” Panzer said outside the courtroom.
Dresow declined to comment about the verdict after the hearing.
The Shoreline Unified School District is a K-12 school district that serves about 500 students and operates six campuses in western Marin and Bodega Bay. Raines was a Petaluma resident at the time of his arrest.
Manly, Stewart & Finaldi has represented hundreds of children who were sexually assaulted by teachers in schools . We secured a settlement of $140 million on behalf of 81 child sexual abuse victims at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles. This was the largest child sexual abuse settlement by a public school district in history. We are also the lead attorneys representing Olympic athletes and victims of former US Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team Doctor Larry Nassar and secured $890 million in settlements for our clients. In each of these cases we have helped victims and families get justice by conducting a thorough investigation of the organization and the school In many cases we have discovered that administrators and executives know that the perpetrator was a danger to children and either did nothing or actively covered up the crimes.