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Former husband of accused Pocatello teacher now also charged with sex crimes

January 26, 2019

POCATELLO — The former husband of a Pocatello teacher accused of raping a first-grade boy now faces up to life in prison after he was also charged with multiple sex crimes.

David James McGarry, 50, of Jerome, has been charged with one count of lewd conduct against a child and one count of rape of a child under the age of 16, both felonies.

McGarry is charged in connection to Tiffany Marie Petersen, 46, of Pocatello, a school teacher who pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to the same rape and lewd conduct charges McGarry is now facing.

Authorities say that Petersen and McGarry sexually abused a first-grade boy at Washington Elementary School in Pocatello where Petersen was a teacher. Petersen reportedly allowed McGarry to be in her classroom with her while she taught her students, and authorities have confirmed that the alleged sexual abuse of the boy happened at the school.

Petersen was later transferred to Syringa Elementary School in Pocatello but has been on leave because of the criminal investigation into the allegations she’s facing.

McGarry was arraigned on Thursday afternoon by Magistrate Judge Paul Laggis. McGarry pleaded not guilty to the charges from the Bannock County Jail via video conference with Laggis.

Laggis released McGarry on his own recognizance after McGarry told the judge that he’s currently involved in a counseling program and is needed at his job in Jerome.

McGarry was indicted for the alleged sex crimes by a Bannock County grand jury on Jan. 16 and was arrested by authorities in Jerome County on Jan. 17. McGarry was then transferred from the Jerome County Jail to the Bannock County Jail on Wednesday.

Authorities did not release information about McGarry’s arrest until Thursday.

Similar to Petersen, McGarry allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse and other sexual acts with the first-grade boy starting in August 2008 while Petersen, who was McGarry’s girlfriend at the time, was the boy’s teacher at Washington Elementary School, according to the indictment.

The boy was 7 or 8 years old at the time of the incidents, the indictment said.

McGarry and Petersen married in January 2009 and remained together for five years until Petersen filed for divorce in July 2014.

Aside from information contained in the criminal indictment, not much is known about the sex crimes McGarry and Petersen are accused of committing because authorities have not released any additional details about the crimes and all other court documents in the case have been sealed.

However, some details about the allegations against McGarry and Petersen are included in a civil lawsuit filed against Petersen and School District 25 by the parents of the allegedly abused former student.

The lawsuit, filed by the alleged victim’s parents in August 2018 in Bannock County court, states that the victim was in Petersen’s first-grade class at Washington Elementary School starting in August 2008 when the sexual abuse began.

The lawsuit accuses the School District of trying to cover up the alleged abuse of the student committed by Petersen and her unnamed boyfriend, who was apparently allowed to be in her classroom while she was teaching at Washington Elementary School.

The lawsuit does not identify Petersen’s boyfriend by name, but authorities confirmed on Thursday that McGarry is the unnamed boyfriend implicated in the suit.

Soon after news of the lawsuit broke last week, School District 25 issued a press release saying it aims to establish an environment at its schools where students feel safe and comfortable when reporting abuse.

“Our learners often seek out our counselors or school psychologists when confronting challenging or frightening situations,” said Kent Hobbs, District 25’s director of student services, in a press release issued on the evening of Jan. 18. “Our school district has worked very hard to create an environment in which our learners feel safe and secure, including providing ongoing sexual harassment training for our administrators, staff and students.”

The parents of the first-grade boy who was allegedly abused are being represented in the civil suit by Pocatello-based attorney Reed Larsen. The parents are seeking between $10,000 and $500,000 in damages, as indicated in a tort claim filed against School District 25 and Petersen in April 2018.

Larsen said the parents filed the lawsuit 10 years after their son was allegedly sexually abused because he did not reveal what happened to him until last year or late 2017.

Authorities have declined to comment on whether the civil litigation against Petersen and School District 25 triggered the criminal investigation into the allegations against her and McGarry.

In response to the lawsuit, defense attorneys representing the School District, Brian K. Julian and Amy G. White, both of Boise, and the attorney representing Petersen in the civil suit, Daniel J. Skinner, also of Boise, denied all of the allegations made by the parents of the alleged victim.

In addition to the recent alleged sex crimes McGarry appeared in court for on Thursday, he was charged with felony sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16 in February 2017 in Bannock County. McGarry pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felony injury to a child in November 2017.

McGarry did not serve any time in prison for that offense because his six-year prison sentence was entirely suspended by the judge, but he did receive four years of probation.

Other details about the case are unavailable because all of the related legal documents have been sealed by the court.

McGarry is due back in court for a preliminary hearing in front of Judge Stephen Dunn on Jan. 28 at the Bannock County Courthouse in Pocatello. On Thursday, Laggis ordered that an attorney from the Bannock County Public Defender’s Office be assigned to represent McGarry.

Petersen has retained Pocatello-based attorney Shane Reichert for her criminal defense.

McGarry and Petersen are each facing a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of the charges against them.

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