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Denise Keesee pleads guilty to sex abuse

Former Sherwood High teacher admits to sleeping with student

KeeseeA former Sherwood High School teacher pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Denise Keesee, 39, initially pleaded not guilty after she turned herself into Washington County sheriff’s deputies last June, but changed her plea on Monday, admitting to two counts of second-degree sex abuse.

As part of a plea deal, Keesee admitted to sleeping with a 16-year-old student several times starting in 2005 and

continuing through 2009. Prosecutors claimed the sexual encounters happened in her home, the boy’s home and at Ibach Park in Tualatin.

Keesee taught math at Sherwood High School for six years before being placed on leave in November 2012. She also coached the school’s girls’ soccer team.

Keesee resigned from her position in May 2013 and turned herself into authorities the following month, six months after the Sheriff’s Office publically announced she was under investigation.

Keesee faced six counts of sex abuse: Four counts against one student, and two counts of abuse involving another.

Keesee pleaded guilty to two counts linked to one student. She did not enter a plea on the charges stemming from allegations involving a second boy.

The investigation

Detectives began investigating Keesee in 2012 after the Department of Human Services passed on information to the Sherwood Police Department about an inappropriate relationship involving a student.

The case was handed over to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office because Keesee’s husband, Adam Keesee, is a Sherwood police officer.

Keesee was placed on leave from the school district in 2012, and the Sherwood Police Department reassigned Adam Keesee, removing him from his school resource officer assignment. Detective Robert Rookhuyzen with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office told The Times after Keesee’s arrest that her husband’s presence at the school likely delayed some students from reporting inappropriate behavior.

“Imagine a place where you have all these people you need to talk to, but you can’t, because her husband is there every day on site,” he said.

Detectives first investigated Keesee in 2008, after the then-16-year-old boy’s mother reported inappropriate text messages between Keesee and her son.

No charges were filed because both the student and Keesee denied any relationship.

After the new allegations came to light, authorities contacted the other boy and re-opened that investigation.

Rookhuyzen said the boys did not realize their reported relationships with Keesee were illegal until subpoenaed by a grand jury.

“It took a lot of effort to explain why it was wrong, what she did, and that these were crimes,” he told The Times in 2013. “It took a lot of time for them to trust us and speak with us.”

Lawsuit filed

Since then, the second boy has filed a $5.1 million lawsuit against Keesee and the school district.

That student, who reportedly has learning disabilities, claimed Keesee groomed him for a sexual relationship and that he was vulnerable to “force, threat, duress, coercion, persuasion, or physical or emotional injury” while at school.

The student, now in his early 20s, claimed Adam Keesee began harassing him after he found out about the affair.

At one point, the officer allegedly pointed a firearm at him during a traffic stop.

The boy claimed he moved out of Sherwood because he was afraid of the retaliation.

Adam Keesee is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Oregon State Police, according to Capt. Ty Hanlon, a spokesman for the Sherwood Police Department.

Meanwhile, during the investigation by sheriff's investigators, Denise Keesee reportedly admitted to an affair with a third student, whom she sent nude photos of herself. No charges were filed in that case because the student was 18 at the time.

Keesee’s sentencing is set for April 21.

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