Former McNary counselor pleads guilty to sexually harassing minor in Polk County

The Polk County Courthouse on April 2, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)


Todd A. Bobeda, 47, of Dallas, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Jan. 9, in Polk County Circuit Court to two counts of sexual harassment. He admitted in his plea petition that he subjected the girl to “offensive physical contact” between December 2019 and July 2021 by touching a “sexual or intimate part.”

A former McNary High School counselor pleaded guilty on Tuesday to sexually harassing a minor.

Bobeda was ordered as part of the plea deal to have no contact with minors outside his family without written approval from a treatment provider, a condition that effectively bars him from working in schools. Other charges of third-degree sexual abuse and first-degree official misconduct were dismissed as part of the agreement.

Polk County Circuit Judge Monte Campbell sentenced Bobeda to three years of probation and 80 hours of community service. 

Bobeda must also undergo an evaluation to determine whether he should receive sex offender treatment based on whether he would benefit, if the community would be safer and the likelihood that he will commit new offenses, according to Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton. 

Bobeda’s attorney in the criminal case, Zachary Stern, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Bobeda’s guilty plea comes a month after he resigned from his job with the Salem-Keizer School District. He had spent over two years on paid administrative leave before stepping down.

District officials said they entered into a resignation agreement with Bobeda and did not ask him to resign. They provided no details about terms of the agreement.

During the time of the conduct described in the criminal information, he was counselor at McNary and South Salem High Schools. He was also the head girls tennis coach at McNary.

Bobeda began working for the school district in 2004. He has been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 5, 2021, when the school district learned of an investigation into his conduct. Paid administrative leave means an employee does not report to school or perform any work, but remains employed and paid.

His annual salary was $89,512, according to district spokesman Aaron Harada.

Bobeda met the victim through school, according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office affidavit

Lara Tiffin, principal of South Salem High School at the time, told deputies that Bobeda “was spending an extensive amount of time” with the victim in his office, sometimes with the door closed, the lights turned down and the curtains drawn, the affidavit said.

“Principal Tiffin told me she counseled Mr. Bobeda but he did not change his behavior,” a deputy wrote in the affidavit. “She reported these problems to the school district and Mr. Bobeda was subsequently transferred to McNary High School.”

Harada, the district spokesman, did not immediately respond to an email about when district administrators received that report, when Bobeda was transferred to McNary and why he wasn’t immediately placed on leave.

On Sept. 16, 2021, the state Department of Human Services started investigating “concerns related to Todd Bobeda’s inappropriate behavior towards students,” according to agency spokesman Jake Sunderland.

The investigation established a risk to the child and the matter was referred to police as required by law, Sunderland said. 

The state agency also determined that neglect allegations against his wife, Cara Bobeda, were founded. She was a teacher in South Salem High School’s Learning Resource Center and has been on administrative leave since Aug. 23, 2021, Harada said.

“I noted based on facts learned during the investigation that Mrs. Bobeda was aware to at least some degree of the sexual abuse,” the deputy wrote in his affidavit. Court records showed no criminal charges have been filed against her.

She sought a court review in September 2022, contesting the state’s findings. The matter was put on hold while her husband’s criminal case proceeded.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

Bobeda remains a licensed school counselor in Oregon as of Tuesday. An investigation by the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, which licenses and disciplines educators, was open as of Dec. 13, said Cristina Edgar, director of professional standards and practices. That investigation opened Aug. 3, 2021.

Records of the commission showed no public sanctions for Bobeda. Edgar did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about the investigation’s status.

Managing Editor Rachel Alexander contributed reporting.