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May 4, 2023 by LCRW STAFF

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Oregon counties have their special district elections on May 16, and Jonathan Allan Bilden might be the most worrying person on the ballot. A candidate in the current Rogue Community College Board of Education race, Bilden was once caught sending inappropriate text messages to a teenager at Southern Oregon’s Eagle Point High School. An evangelical Christian with ties to the local fake abortion clinic, Bilden is banned from teaching in Oregon public schools.

In 2013, a sixteen-year-old student at Eagle Point High School reported that her volleyball coach, Jonathan Bilden—who was also an Eagle Point City Councilor at the time—was incessantly texting her. Exchanging over 300 private text messages in a two month period, Bilden texted the teenager during school hours, after school and as late as 11PM.

Bildens listing in this year's election guide, showing his photo--a toothy grin on a man with short hair and crow's feet. The title is "Rogue COmmunity college district director, zone 4," It lists his occupation as "charter school business manager" and his occupational background as "charter school administration, nonprofit leadership, entrepreneurial and marking management"

The student, who according to the report wished to remain anonymous, wanted the text messages to stop, so she told the school. She worried about being punished by the volleyball team for speaking out. Through public records requests, LCRW obtained a copy of the school’s sexual misconduct investigation. The records do not contain Bilden’s text messages, but allude to disturbing content. One staff member described the texts as “sexual in nature” and another called them “borderline creepy and inappropriate.”

The records include an email with the subject line “Mandatory Reporter,” written by an Eagle Point High School staff member. After describing Bilden’s text messages, the staff person wrote, “That is disturbing to me as [Assistant Principal Bryan Wood] told all of the coaches in August that we shouldn’t text our players at all unless it is a mass text about a game being cancelled or practice being moved. He was very explicit in this.”

The student who reported Bilden’s texts stated, according to the records, “there is another volleyball girl he texted too… She said some of the messages he sent her were weird.” Documented interviews with staff members reference “a text regarding drinking beer… the ‘sorry I’ve been drinking’ text [and] the boyfriend thing.”

According to local news reports at the time, Bilden claimed these “heinous rumors” were part of a pro-union smear campaign because Bilden’s wife – who was also a teacher at Eagle Point High School – crossed the picket line during a teacher’s strike.

Within days, Bilden resigned from his coaching positions at Eagle Point High School. (Bilden was a paid boys’ basketball coach and volunteer girls’ volleyball coach.) His resignation, it appears, effectively ended the school’s investigation. A police report was filed but there were no charges. Bilden was trespassed from Eagle Point High School for a year, but his political career continued to flourish.

March 5th, 2013 letter to Bilden informing him of a notice of no trespass at Eagle Point high school. It has the Eagle Point High School letterhead.

By 2015, Bilden was the City Council President of Eagle Point. That same year, Bilden was settling into his second year as board member for ACCESS, Jackson County’s publicly funded Community Action Agency. Today, Bilden serves as the Board Chair for ACCESS. Bilden’s credentials as a local politician and board member give him regular access to organizations serving families and youth.

ACCESS did not respond to LCRW’s request for comment at press time.

In 2014, Bilden joined the board of The Pregnancy Center, which is Medford, Oregon’s fake abortion clinic. According to Planned Parenthood, fake clinics like the Pregnancy Center are run by “anti-abortion activists who have a shady, harmful agenda: to scare, shame, or pressure you out of getting an abortion, and to tell lies about abortion, birth control, and sexual health.” Bilden served on their board for seven years.

In 2020, Bilden was a board member for Redemption Ridge, a Christian nonprofit serving youth victims of sex trafficking. In 2021, the nonprofit announced it was closing permanently, citing a “labor shortage.” Bilden is also the board secretary of Pacific Bible College, the local evangelical school founded by Perry Atkinson, a far-right pastor who was deplatformed by YouTube in 2021 for promoting election disinformation and COVID denialism.

In 2015, Bilden filed a state application to become an administrator for a public charter school. The Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, the state agency responsible overseeing cases of educator misconduct in Oregon public schools, re-investigated Bilden’s case. TSPC’s “Final Order,” which was also signed by Bilden and publicly issued in 2017, states that “Bilden’s conduct… constitute[d] gross neglect of duty” in violation of Oregon laws.

The TSPC found that Bilden violated numerous professional requirements including OAR 584-020-0035(1)(c)(B) and (D):

“not accepting or giving or exchanging romantic or overly personal gifts or notes with a student” and “honoring appropriate adult boundaries with students in conduct and conversations at all times.”

The commission not only denied Bilden’s educator license application but also “revoke[d] his right to apply for an educator license” in the future.

The TSPC’s Final Order was never covered in local news but it is difficult to imagine how or why Bilden continues to be employed in K-12 education. Bilden is currently the Executive Assistant at Crater Lake Academy, a public charter school in Eagle Point. Bilden’s biography on the Butte Creek Mill website—where he serves as a board member—describes him as “the head of Business & HR for a regional charter school and [a] part of several programs focused on innovating education in Southern Oregon.”

Crater Lake Academy did not answer LCRW’s request for comment at press time.

On May 14, 2023, Jackson County voters will decide whether to elect Jonathan Bilden  as a board member for Rogue Community College, a publicly funded and governed college. According to the local election voters’ pamphlet, Bilden’s endorsers include former Eagle Point mayor Bob Russell and current county commissioner Dave Dotterer.


LCRW staff wrote this article under the supervision of Editor in Chief Abner Häuge.


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