By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
South Mountain officials apparently never learned about the massive settlement, nor about McCord's sordid track record in Mesa. Rabe says she had no idea McCord was working at South Mountain until after his arrest. And Detective Richardson had retired.
Principal Diaz says he can't recall making any calls to Mesa about McCord's background; McCord's former boss at Mesa High, Bob Free, says he never got any.
@body:Ricky Deuel was a perfect victim for David McCord. The teen seemed star-crossed even before he had the misfortune of meeting McCord.
As David McCord had made news for "marrying" his male lover, Ricky Deuel too was a first at something. Born without a heart "clock," Ricky in 1973 became the youngest person in the nation to receive a pacemaker. He was two days old at the time.
Ricky survived despite the odds against him, but before his second birthday, a series of seizures put him back in the hospital. His folks say he "died" during surgery, but again he pulled through.
At age 7, Ricky underwent yet more surgery. After he survived, doctors told the Deuels that their oldest of three sons could live a long life.
But a traumatic event impeded Ricky's recovery. The Deuels caught a baby sitter sexually molesting the boy and learned it had been going on for some time.
"He was a very, very angry kid," says his father, Chick, a graphic artist for a national grocery wholesale firm. "He blamed us for his heart surgeries and for everything. He had been molested by people we had trusted. He started to run from us and from himself."
Ricky and his two younger brothers were exceptionally bright. A talented artist, Ricky did Picasso imitations that wowed friends and family. But he was forever getting into trouble.
As Ricky got older, his parents were increasingly unable to control him. When he was 14, they placed him in a psychiatric facility for emotionally troubled teens.
Upon Ricky's release after eighth grade, his parents enrolled him at South Mountain High. On Registration Day, Mary Deuel sought out David McCord on the recommendation of Ricky's new guidance counselor. "He said Mr. McCord was excellent with troubled kids," she recalls.
Ever the volunteer, McCord was taking ID photos of incoming students. Mary Deuel confided in him that her son was a molestation victim with emotional problems. McCord assured her he'd take the boy under his wing.
McCord selected Ricky as his "student assistant," which gave him access to the boy at the start and end of each school day. Ricky later said McCord had flirted with him almost from the start. The teacher brought up the earlier molesting and asked him how he would feel if it happened again.
Soon after Christmas break in early 1989, Ricky said, McCord seduced him in a classroom closet after school. Sex with the obese teacher became part of Ricky's school day.
"I was one of the biggest troublemakers at South," Ricky later testified. "Mr. McCord bailed me out several times. I was under the impression that if I did not keep up the activity, I would be thrown out of school."
Things were extremely tense at the Deuel household during this time. Ricky came and went as he pleased. His grades were terrible. The Deuels threatened to put him in another psychiatric facility if he didn't come around. They were at a loss.
In desperation, they turned to David McCord.
"We became very close talking about Ricky and his problems," Mary Deuel recalls. "He showed a great interest in Rick. We trusted him completely."
In the summer of 1989, the Deuels allowed Ricky to live with McCord after the family's psychologists met with the teacher and his second wife--McCord had married yet another woman who worked with handicapped kids. McCord billed himself as a solid family man with great interest and experience in caring for troubled youth.
Unsure of his sexuality and fearful of being sent to another psychiatric facility, Ricky continued to keep the truth from his folks.
But in December 1989, a teenager confided in a Maricopa County sheriff's detective. The boy said that a South Mountain teacher named McCord was having sex with a kid named Ricky.
The detective, Ken Colbert, says he wrote a memo to the Phoenix Police Department and followed up with a call.
Phoenix police detective Michael Sechez says he contacted South Mountain High and was told a Mr. McCord was on staff. But Colbert's memo had referred to a Ricky Devel, spelling the name with a "v" instead of a "u." The person Sechez spoke with--he can't recall whom--said the school had no one there by that name.
The popular McCord continued to teach in the spring of 1990 at South Mountain. But not everyone at the school was thrilled with him. Sylvia Babbitt, who teaches English as a second language at the school, had a male Foreign Exchange student removed from McCord's home during the 1989-90 school year.
"The boy was very unhappy there, but he didn't say why," Babbitt says. "I didn't have any evidence that anything was going on, just a hunch. And so I worked to get him out of there. Mr. McCord was not very pleased with me."
The McCord "investigation" lay dormant until the fall of 1990. By then, Ricky had transferred to Metro Tech--part of the Phoenix Union school district. Ricky went by bus each morning from South Mountain to Metro Tech, where he showed an aptitude for learning sign language. His contacts with McCord were far less frequent than they'd been.