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Washington boy, 14, charged with putting belt around teacher’s neck during class

The incident March 2 at Bethel High School left the teacher "visibly shaken up," according to the probable cause affidavit.
Bethel High School in Spanaway, WA.
Bethel High School in Spanaway, Wash.Google Maps

A 14-year-old Washington state boy has been charged with attempted assault after he put his belt around his teacher’s neck during class, police and prosecutors say.

The incident between the student and his physical education teacher unfolded March 2 at Bethel High School in Spanaway. 

The teacher said the boy came up behind her, threw his belt around her neck and pulled her back, according to the probable cause affidavit. The teacher grabbed the belt and turned to see the boy standing near her, it says.

She asked the student why he would do that to her, and “all he said was sorry,” she told investigators, the affidavit says.

The teacher felt scared and ran to her office and called for help, the affidavit says.

Pierce County sheriff's deputies said that when they contacted the teacher, she was “visibly shaken up with red eyes and still crying on and off," the affidavit says.

The teacher told deputies she didn’t feel her airway was obstructed or that her breathing was limited. It is unknown whether she suffered any serious injuries.

The student said in a statement to police, “I was being dumb taking my belt and messing with the gym teacher by putting it over her head and pulling it back up."

Deputies also spoke with a student who reported that before the attack, the student asked him and his friends whether he should use the belt on the teacher. Another student reported that the student said “It was a joke” after the teacher asked why he did it, the affidavit says.

The affidavit says video of the incident was consistent with the teacher’s statement. 

The boy was arrested, charged with second-degree attempted assault and booked into Remann Hall, the county’s juvenile facility, said Adam Faber of the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

He pleaded not guilty and was later released to his parents, Faber said. A pretrial conference is scheduled for March 16; the prosecutor’s office said he has not been assigned a lawyer yet.

NBC News has asked Bethel High School and the Bethel School District for comment.

CORRECTION (March 9, 2022, 11:15 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of a spokesman for the Pierce County prosecutor. He is Adam Faber, not Farber.