The prosecution of a renowned paleontologist for allegedly having sex with a high-school student on Orcas Island turned into an ordeal of deceit, sex and betrayal that left nobody involved unscathed. “This all fell like a ton of bricks on my head,” Gerald Grellet-Tinner says.

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FRIDAY HARBOR — A tall man with an imposing head of wavy blond hair, a wide smile and a French accent, Gerald Grellet-Tinner was a sort of rock star among paleontologists.

A one-time scuba trainer for the French Foreign Legion, Grellet-Tinner was a published post-Ph.D.-level researcher credited with discovering how a species of dinosaur incubated eggs in volcanic vents, and a gem expert who had worked with the Department of Homeland Security on terrorist money-laundering issues in the wake of 9/11. He conducted research for the University of Chicago and taught at UCLA before moving to Orcas Island in 2014.

That was before the then-60-year-old decided to teach science at Orcas Island High School in 2015 while caring for his ailing son. And before he met his student lab assistant, 19-year-old Antonia (not her real name), and before his life was taken apart when he was accused of having sex with her. It is a crime in Washington state for a teacher to have sex with any student younger than 21.

Who’s involved

Gerald Grellet-Tinner, paleontologist and former science teacher at Orcas High School.

“Antonia,” (not her real name), former student at Orcas High School.

Stephen Parker, former San Juan County sheriff’s deputy.

Ron Krebs, sheriff of San Juan County and Parker’s former boss.

Randall Gaylord, San Juan County prosecutor.

Richard Weyrich, Skagit County prosecutor. 

Nick Power, Grellet-Tinner’s civil-rights attorney.

Robert Butler, Grellet-Tinner’s criminal defense attorney.

Christine Miller, San Juan County victim advocate.

Donald Eaton, San Juan County Superior Court judge.

Lori Sigman, Skagit County sheriff’s deputy.

Brent Johnson, San Juan County undersheriff.

Grellet-Tinner was arrested, jailed, convicted by a jury of two felonies and almost sent to prison as a sex offender before a judge threw the case out, citing a miscarriage of justice.

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The reason? While Grellet-Tinner sat in jail, facing possible prison, the San Juan County sheriff’s detective who was trying to put him there was sexually involved with Antonia himself, according to investigators.