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Hein Files: So Here's the Weird Thing with That
Per an interview transcript, the teacher under investigation for sexual misconduct repeatedly rubbed the female detective's leg and rambled about "festering" attraction for students
J425 Special Report: The Criminal Interview of Mark Hein
Editor’s Note: J425 returns to the Mark Hein investigation today. The complete transcript of Detective Kristin Parnell’s criminal interview of Mark Hein is included above.
This is our fourth report on the Lake Stevens High School math teacher/coach arrested January 25 on multiple counts of sexual misconduct involving minor students and booked into Snohomish County Jail. The charges were later dropped, and while law enforcement told J425 they intended to refile, no new charges have been filed.
J425 contacted the school district late last week and confirmed that Hein remains on paid administrative leave pending the completion of administrative investigations.
We heard from Lake Stevens Police as well, who confirmed that a criminal investigation is still ongoing.
Today’s story presentation includes graphic visualizations of statements pulled from Detective Parnell’s criminal interview of Mark Hein. This our attempt to help a fairly difficult bit of reporting become more accessible.
If all you do is scroll down and read the pull quotes, you’ll still get a good idea of the gist of the interview. Before you move on to the interview pull quotes though, consider this statement from a very influential player whom you’ll become more familiar with in following installments of J425’s investigation of educator sexual misconduct involving students.
When I talk with teachers in schools where an abuser has been arrested, I hear admissions that they had suspected something but, because they were not completely sure, did not want to say anything. A common explanation for not reporting questionable behavior is, “If I reported and I was wrong, I would have ruined the life of another teacher.” I have never heard a colleague say, “If I didn’t report and this person had abused, I’d have ruined the life of a student.”
- Dr. Carol Shakeshaft, author of “Educator Sexual Misconduct, a Synthesis of Existing Literature”
Probable Cause Obtained
We know this much: Detective Parnell wrote at the end of the interview transcript that she’d obtained probable cause as a result of this awkward and difficult exchange, which includes two occasions in which Detective Parnell details Hein rubbing his leg against hers in a manner that made her very uncomfotable.
Why the hell was Hein rubbing his leg against the detective charged with investigating him…during a criminal interview about allegations of sexual misconduct?
Well, he was only recreating the types of contact he’d had with one of the victims, of course.
Makes perfect sense right?
With that said, here’s the J425 reporting on Detective Parnell’s criminal interview of Mark Hein. - KTH
Today, we publish Detective Kristin Parnell’s one-on-one suspect investigation with Mark Hein conducted on August 15, 2022. We’ll publish the entire transcript at the end. In the meantime, we’ll provide you with selected quotes from the interview while we get you back up to speed on where things stand with an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation that involves at least four victims and has spanned over 14 months. Parnell conducted her interview with Hein at the culmination of a criminal investigation launched June 15. Parnell’s investigation was launched after mandatory third-party reporting triggered law enforcement notification of alleged grooming activities at Lake Stevens High School.
Specifically, a licensed therapist notified Child Protective Services of a 15-year-old student suffering from serious non-epileptic seizures and severe post-traumatic stress emanating from a Lake Stevens High School teacher’s alleged grooming and misconduct.
Parnell promptly served the district with search warrants for Hein’s personnel file and investigatory documents relating to the district’s look at Hein’s behavior (J425 published a report on the documents turned over as a result of Parnell’s warrant on March 18). Over the next two months, Parnell interviewed multiple victims, numerous students, teachers, administrators and experts.
Parnell began her investigation after the district had already launched and completed an investigation over the same core subject matter. The district found that Hein violated student/teacher boundaries and documented their finding in a non-disciplinary letter of direction provided to Hein on February 15, 2023. The letter outlined several instances in which Hein violated district policy 4900 and warned Hein against further contact with the two 15-year-old students who’d brought forward complaints of harassment and “groomer” behaviors. As J425 previously reported, Hein apparently thought very little of the letter, telling LSPD Detective Parnell that the letter was “unfair” to him. He paid it little heed, continuing to contact the victim on numerous occasions.
Hein’s escalatory behavior ultimately drove the victim off campus, suffering from debilitating psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and “very extreme PTSD.” A licensed therapist linked the seizures and PTSD to Hein’s alleged “grooming” behaviors and notified Child Protective Services, which in turn notified the Lake Stevens Police Department. And that’s why, as we come full circle, an LSPD Detective specially-trained in investigating the abuse of children began a criminal investigation into the very same misconduct that the district had evaluated four months prior.
And this is where it gets interesting. The facts uncovered during the criminal investigation cast new light on the district’s previous investigation…as well as (one would assume) providing the district with a new range of well-substantiated evidence produced by a detective with expertise in crimes against children, warrant power and the access and standing to interview scores of teachers and staff. In short, Detective Parnell’s findings will need to be evaluated by the district through the prism of the district’s (non-criminal) administrative policies. Meaning that even if Hein navigates the ongoing criminal investigation, he faces the prospect of follow-on district investigation that must confront discrepancies in the interview Hein gave the district in February of 2021…as well as new administrative and/or Title IV probes into material turned up in Parnell’s investigation.
The players remain the same, but the rules are different.
Two public agencies investigated the actions of Hein. The district, operating at a much lower evidentiary threshold, looking through a non-criminal administrative prism in order to determine whether Hein violated district misconduct policy, found enough evidence to sustain the allegations of misconduct, but apparently not enough evidence to remove Hein from close contact with the victims.
The LSPD investigation looked at Hein’s actions with regard to the same victims over a longer range of time, through the prism of criminal sex crimes against minors.
Detective Parnell stated that she found probable cause that six such crimes occurred, and applied for a warrant for Hein’s arrest. The evidence Parnell turned up provides material that can be evaluated by the district through its misconduct policy. And it will be interesting to see where behavior that Detective Parnell deemed worthy of charges serious enough for prison time and lifetime sex offender registry — well it will be interesting to see just what type of penalty this same behavior warrants under the district’s “boundary invasion” policy.
At issue in the LSPD investigation (and under discussion in this interview) are the actions of a 55-year-old teacher with regard to 15-year-old girls under his charge. The district is free to interpret the situation in any number of ways.
They could simply view the issue as a law enforcement matter, as the therapist and CPS apparently did. They could evaluate Hein’s behavior under the district’s sexual harassment policy, which certainly would’ve been appropriate given the unwanted touching and the repeated harassment/stalker behavior reported by the victim and her mother.
Or, alternatively, the district could choose to evaluate Hein’s behavior under the district “boundary invasion” policy. We know which tact the district took.
And because LSPD opened a criminal investigation into the same behaviors ruled on by the completed LSSD investigation, we now know that behavior the district deems a “boundary invasion” is equivalent to what a police detective calls sexual crimes against a child.
And that’s not all. Because Detective Kristin Parnell included a transcript of her suspect interview with Mark Hein in the probable cause packet filed at the time of his arrest, we are provided a preview of the information that the district must now evaluate in its ongoing administrative inquiry into the Hein matter.
To the district, Parnell’s appearance on the scene might’ve been viewed as a blessing and a curse.
On the plus side, a thorough criminal investigation conducted by an expert in her field would provide the district with a new set of findings to evaluate…findings arrived through the application of the powerful array of tools, strategies and techniques available to a detective investigating crimes against children.
Obviously, Detective Parnell stood ready to conduct a deeper and broader investigation than the one conducted by the district.
As a result, her probe was always likely to produce a different set of results than those turned up by a collegial internal probe conducted in the lowest-stakes environment.
On the down side, the logical dissonance created when the same stuff the district calls “boundary invasions” transform into a spate of prison-worthy sexual crimes against minors when evaluated by law enforcement might cause some sleepless nights for those shepherding our community’s children.
The district had found that Hein’s behavior had amounted to “boundary invasions” - yielding a non-disciplinary “letter of direction” and a direct administrative order for Hein to stop contacting the victim, an order which Hein completely ignored.
Parnell’s evaluation of the same behavior led her to believe a series of minor-involved sex crimes had occurred - crimes that carry mandatory lifetime sex offender reporting requirements as well as significant prison time.
Our interest, today, is in understanding how one public entity could look at the harm done to a child and view it as a “boundary invasion” worthy of less than a slap on the wrist, and backed up by an administrative no-contact order so toothless that Hein immediately ignored it, redoubling his contact with the victim until she was forced off campus suffering from a series of stress-related seizures.
For Parnell’s purposes, as a criminal investigator, the goal of the interview was to obtain requisite probable cause that crimes had occurred, in order to move forward with a criminal case. However, from a wider perspective, the facts and evidence arising from her investigation of Hein are also directly relevant to the parallel school district inquiries into Hein’s alleged behavior.
Parnell’s interview – and Hein’s direct responses – also provide the public with their clearest look yet into Hein’s direct response to these allegations. Accordingly, before we dive into the interview, we’ll run you through a quick refresher of the allegations Hein faced as he sat down across from Detective Parnell.
How Did We Get Here?
Hein was investigated by the school district in February of 2022 after a 15-year-old female math student (we refer to her as Jane) and her mother met with school administrators in order to report misconduct and improper teacher/student behavior emanating from the student’s experience in Hein’s class. The district’s initial investigation honed in on a series of instances in which Hein’s alleged behaviors appeared to violate state and district policy, including the following:
- Pressing Jane for information about her non-school related activities, including date and location details – as well as pressing Jane for descriptions of what she wore at these events.
- Writing Jane notes during class and insisting she write back.
- Giving Jane candy in front of the class
- Changing Jane’s grades without regard to her earned marks, even over her stated objection - a fireable offense under Washington Administrative Code
- Pushing 15-year-old Jane for intimate details about her relationships with boyfriends.
- Contacting other students to discuss Jane, including her boyfriends, with whom Hein discussed their dating relationship with Jane.
- Repeatedly invited 15-year-old student on overnight non-school trips with him.
- Communicating with JANE over email and social media.
- Requiring JANE to meet him before school to pose for pictures with him.
- Offering to procure any boy on the basketball team for her, even providing a roster for her to choose from.
- Responding with anger after Jane transferred from his class, referring to her as a traitor and pressing her for details in written notes.
Detective Parnell’s investigation added additional instances of misconduct, including:
- Hein’s continued engagement in contact with Jane in direct violation of an administrative order to cease contact documented in the February 15 letter of direction outlining Hein’s violation of policy 4900
- Detailed description of the level and frequency of unwanted touching that Jane was subjected to, including unwanted touching that occurred after Jane directly told Hein to stop.
With regard to most of the aforementioned behaviors, we’ve elected to avoid detailed descriptions. If you’re seeking those details, delve into our previous reporting. We provide the list of alleged violations only to setup today’s topic - the one on one suspect interview between Hein and Parnell.
With that said, J425 feels it vital to refresh the public’s memory with regard to the type of touching that 15-year-old Jane was subjected to. From our previous reporting:
Hein subjected JANE to daily unwanted physical touching, during which Hein would run his hands over JANE’s thighs, shielded from plain view by the teachers desk he required her to sit at with him.
According to Parnell’s report, Hein touched JANE’s thighs every day and he ignored her direct order for him to stop unwanted touching. From Parnell’s report:
Mark started rubbing JANE ’s thigh about two weeks into the school year….He touched her thigh at least one time each class…JANE was wearing pants every time he rubbed her thigh, but several times she was wearing a pair of jeans that are ripped on the thigh. When she wore those jeans, Mark would touch her bare skin when he rubbed her thigh. When Mark touched JANE’s thigh, she would pull her leg away from him. Immediately before he touched her thigh, Mark would look around the classroom at the students doing their classwork. JANE believes he was checking to make sure he would not be seen touching JANE. JANE only told him not to touch her one time. When she did, Mark responded, “Why? I’m not doing anything wrong.” She said his response made her feel like she was crazy, so she did not want to keep repeating it.