The Olympia Washington Kiwanis members and their friends have cost the Washington State taxpayers over $50 million dollars (so far), because of their willful ignorance of long term, merciless and well known, child abuse that occurred at the Olympia Kiwanis Boys Ranch.
October 2006 note: This Olympia Kiwanis stuff is old news. I've left this information on the web, because I like the thought that someone will say to one of these Kiwanis friends or members: "Grandma, (Grandpa), are you still friends with those Olympia Kiwanians?"
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Back to the beginning OKBR Home Page(http://lbloom.net/indexok.html)
The Seattle Times Company
Local News : Thursday, December 21, 2000
Last big lawsuit settled in O.K. Boys Ranch
By Barbara A. Serrano
Seattle Times political editor
The state of Washington has settled the last major lawsuit involving sexual abuse at the O.K. Boys Ranch in Olympia, effectively
closing the books on one of the most expensive legal cases in state history.
After one day of mediation, the state agreed Tuesday night to pay $7.5 million to 13 former residents who claimed they were sexually and physically abused at the group home for troubled boys.
When the check is mailed, the state will have paid out a total of $22.3 million to 51 men who said they were mistreated while living at the state-licensed facility as young boys.
That price tag is the largest ever agreed to by the state.
Earlier this year, the state was ordered to pay nearly $19 million to three developmentally disabled men who said they were molested in a state-licensed facility in Kitsap County.
And in July, the state agreed to pay $8.8 million to Linda David, the Everett woman who was allegedly held captive and beaten by her husband while living on a boat for 10 years.
The reports of physical and sexual abuse involving children at O.K. Boys Ranch spanned three decades, from the late 1970s until it was shut down in 1994.
The group home, founded by the Kiwanis Club of Olympia, was monitored and licensed by the state Department of Social and Health Services.
State officials said yesterday that the payout does not mean DSHS acknowledges any wrongdoing. But the Seattle attorney who represented the former residents believes it says quite the opposite.
"For about a quarter century, that place was harming children," said Jack Connelly, who also handled three previous Boys Ranch lawsuits. "And when it came to the state's attention, the state didn't do anything about it.''
The lawsuits alleged that young boys were sexually abused and subjected to mean-spirited, even sadistic forms of punishment by employees and by older boys who lived with them.
It was a place, the lawsuits said, where the youngest would lie awake at night, expecting to be raped by their housemates.
There were initiation fights, drug and alcohol use, and bizarre disciplinary rituals. One was to make a boy pick twigs off the road while a car drove behind him, bumping up against him if he walked too slowly.
Not only was the abuse routine, the former residents claimed, it was reported to criminal investigators and state authorities. Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who investigated the situation after the ranch was closed to determine who was responsible, called it "a jungle of pervasive and physical violence and sexual abuse."
A 1989 audit by DSHS outlined evidence of physical assaults and concerns about sexual abuse.
O.K. Boys Ranch staff members promised to fix the problems. But it took five more years before the state shut it down in 1994.
The first lawsuit was filed in 1993 and settled a year later. DSHS then began to make changes in the way it licenses and monitors group homes across the state.
The people who were supposed to be checking on group homes, for example, were no longer also in charge of granting them operating licenses. The requirements for reporting incidents were strengthened.
And DSHS was given more leeway to revoke and deny licenses based on health and safety violations.
Before those changes, "there were some difficulties in taking actions," said DSHS spokesman Gordon Schultz.
"The bigger good (that) will come out of the O.K. Boys Ranch case is that we have changed group-home care in the state of Washington," Connelly said. "Hopefully, this kind of thing will never repeat itself."
The $7.5 million settlement between the state and the 13 plaintiffs was reached in mediation with a retired King County Superior Court judge.
Betty Reed, the state's risk-management administrator, said the money will be paid in about a month from a state self-insurance program.
The Kiwanis Club also agreed Monday to have its insurance companies pay $4.2 million to settle the lawsuit. ``People should keep in mind that members of the Kiwanis Club who founded this home (in 1971) were people who were trying to do something positive for their community,'' Paul Cane, the Kiwanis' attorney, said Thursday.
``The worst thing you could say about my client is that they trusted people too much. If mistakes were made, they were made by people the Kiwanis trusted.''
The Kiwanis Club itself was not accused of abuse, Cane said, and knew nothing about the allegations until June 1992. The group home was run by a separate corporation, and a handful of Kiwanis members sat on the O.K. Boys Ranch board of directors.
Cane said he hopes the negative publicity that has swirled around the Boys Ranch does not deter other non-profit volunteers from trying to help others. He said he worries that ``people who are out there trying to do positive things for the community might be less likely to do so after seeing what happened to the Kiwanis Club of Olympia.''
Connelly said a total of about $50 million is being paid out by the state, the Kiwanis Club and insurers who have been named in various lawsuits involving the ranch.
The group home has been remodeled and reopened as Touchstone, a 16-bed group home for boys referred there by the courts. It is run by Second Chance, a non-profit agency, and licensed by DSHS.
Many of the individuals involved with the O.K. Boys Ranch when the problems there became known are gone now. Former employees and the then-secretary of DSHS have moved on.
But the boys who once lived in fear at O.K. Boys Ranch are still suffering, Connelly said.
Now in their late teens to early 30s, some have served time in jail and prison.
Connelly says much of the settlement money will go toward helping the former residents with therapy and job training.
"What we try to do is get them into counseling or into school. But the damage from this place makes it very difficult to do that ... ," he said.
"It takes until they're about 26 or 32 before they start understanding it wasn't their fault."
Here's a Institutional Negligence of Children:The OK Boys Ranch Case. to where anybody can send for the below information.
Institutional Negligence of Children:The OK Boys Ranch Case. Attorney John Connelly, Jr. and principal psychiatric expert Gilbert Kliman, M.D. Details of how children won compensation of over 35 million dollars from the Kiwanis Club and the State of Washington. Three hour video tape and 100 page handbook.
Back to the beginning OKBR Home Page(http://lbloom.net)
Below is a Tacoma News Tribune newspaper article from October 1, 1994, that details where some of the over $35 million dollar OKBR settlement may come from. There is also an article from the March 20, 1999 Olympian, about the latest March 1999 lawsuit.
Tacoma News Tribune
ABUSE STILL HAUNTS BOYS' RANCH SURVIVOR
Byline: Paul Chavez
Jason Hatley said he was a 12-year-old boy from a broken home when he was initiated at the O.K. Boys' Ranch in Olympia.
It happened his first night at the 15-bed foster home, when he was taking a shower. Teenagers at the home threw a blanket over his head, and several boys at the foster home started hitting and punching him. Hatley said he was urinated on and had feces thrown at him. He said his teenage initiators dragged him outside and left him naked on the foster home's roof.
Hatley, now 21, said when he told staff members at the O.K. Ranch about the initiation, they told him the ranch operated under "the law of the jungle" and he would have to fend for himself.
Hatley and more than a dozen other youths from the home eventually fended for themselves by telling their stories of physical and sexual abuse at the home.
Details of their stories - including accounts of rapes, consensual sex orgies and beatings - led to the settlement of a lawsuit Thursday that could bring more than $21 million to the former foster-home residents. The boys' suit alleged sexual abuse was rampant at the O.K. Boys Ranch for troubled youth from 1985 through 1993. It claimed the state and the Olympia Kiwanis Club, which operated the foster home, did nothing to stop it.
The settlement Thursday included:
* A $4.175 million settlement from the state of Washington. The state Department of Social and Health Services conducted an audit of the ranch in 1988 that disclosed multiple sexual abuse of youths by other youths and/or staff, court documents said. Lawyers for the boys charged that DSHS did little to stop the abuses.
* A $3 million settlement from the Kiwanis Club of Olympia, which operated the foster home. Court documents claimed staffers at the foster home traumatized the boys and failed to report abuses to the authorities. * A $1.36 million from a ranch insurer.
The settlement also allowed the boys to seek nearly $12.5 million from two additional insurance agencies, said Jack Connelly, one of the attorneys for the youths. Connelly said he hopes the settlement will prevent future abuses at foster homes.
Kathy Spears, spokeswoman for DSHS, said the lawsuit has forced the state agency to reexamine its foster-care system. "We're in the process of making major changes in child health and safety," she said. "We're going through a major process so that children who are placed in group home and foster care are safe and secure." She said top administrators at the agency had been behind closed doors for the past three days, working on ways to improve accountability and monitoring. "With this type of thing, there needs to be answers," she said. "People need to be held responsible." The agency will unveil a plan next week that should provide mechanisms to improve children's health and safety, she said. "It's very regrettable and should not have happened," Spears said. "We want to make sure it never happens again."
Attorney Connelly praised Hatley and the other teenagers who told their stories of beatings and sexual abuse. "It's important to point out the courage of these kids who had to testify in lengthy depositions," he said. "It took a lot of courage to sit in front of people and say this."
Attorneys for the foster home could not be reached for comment Friday and did not return phone calls.
Hatley said he was raped by other boys twice while at the foster home and escaped a third sexual assault by running outside and yanking a fire alarm. He said his attackers weren't punished, but he was disciplined by the staff for pulling a false alarm.
Those attacks were horrible, Hatley said, but there was more to the foster home than that. "Being subject to violence every day was the worst," he said. "People subject to something for a long time, that becomes their way of life."
Hatley and other youths said in documents filed with the case in Thurston County Superior Court that staff members let older boys deliver brutal discipline. In other instances, Hatley said, staff members would give arguing youths a pair of boxing gloves and watch them slug it out. "It was a school for gladiators," Hatley said.
Hatley, who said he got into trouble with the law after he left the ranch, spoke to The News Tribune on Friday while out on a one-day pass from the Thurston County Jail. He said he was serving time for violating a court order involving his girlfriend. He said he realizes his years at the O.K. Ranch affected his behavior afterward, and now he's trying to better himself. "I loved the violence," the soft-spoken Hatley said. "I loved it. It's not my way of life now, but it was."
Hatley said he's committed to long-term counseling and anger management. He said he's also helping himself by writing poetry. He wrote a poem called "Truth Will Win!" dedicated to all the boys of O.K. Boys' Ranch. It ends by saying:
"So be strong my little friends,
for our truth will win in the end."
Below is an article from the March 20, 1999 Olympian, about the latest OKBR lawsuit.
LEGAL FLOODGATES REOPEN AT BOYS RANCH
MORE SUITS: Another ex-resident sues the boys home, alleging abuse.
By Joel Coffidis The Olympian March 20, 1999
OLYMPIA - Four months after the state paid $5.5 million to 12 ex-residents of the former Olympia Kiwanis Boys Ranch who suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse, another law suit has been filed and more are likely, lawyers said Friday.
Since the boys home in Olympia closed In 1994, the state has paid nearly $15 million - including earlier settlements - to 38 victims and six parents.
An additional $7.4 million has been paid by insurers for the Kiwanis Club of Olympia and the ranch.
In the latest lawsuit, Daunte L. Tognietti, 21, is seeking unspecified damages, said S. Don Phelps of Olympia, his lawyer.
Tognietti was placed in ranch on his 13th birthday, on March 15, 1991, Phelps said in the suit filed last week in Thurston County Superior Court.
Later, Phelps alleged, the youth suffered hostile and unsafe living conditions, neglect and mental, physical and sexual abuse.
The 15-bed state-licensed center was shut down in September 1994, several years after state officials began receiving reports of abuse that included rapes and beatings of younger boys by older ones and physical abuse by staffers.
Tognietti was charged and later convicted of raping and molesting another resident at the ranch, behavior that he learned at the ranch, Phelps asserted.
"He was socialized into that environment," Phelps said Friday.
The lawsuit will be reviewed and sent to a law firm hired by the state, said Mike Tardif, chief of the state Attorney's General's tort claims division.
The Attorney's General's office is not handling the suits partly because the office handled earlier criminal cases against several staff members at the ranch, Tardif said. Having an outside firm handle the suits avoids a possible conflict of interest, he added.
The charges against the three staffers were later dismissed.
Claims have been filed with the state involving four other alleged victims, said John Connelly of Tacoma, the lawyer who represents the other victims.
Those cases are likely to become lawsuits, he added.
Joel Cofficlis covers courts for The Olympian. He can be reached at 754-5447.
Below is an e-mail I received from a former Olympia, Washington resident.
From: louis a bloom firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 1999 11:34 AM
Just came across your pages and felt the urge to respond... In the early 80's (81-83) I was at the OKBR frequently as a young kid walking to/from school, I became friends with some of the boys. At one point a small boy confided to me that he was being raped by another boy in the home. The abusing boy talked about it openly!
Days later I walked the victim to OPD where we both gave statements. Later that evening I began to receive these incredibly threatening phone calls from a woman employee of the ranch who's name I believe was Paulette at my home. She kept calling over and over screaming at me calling me names. It was horrible. I thought I was helping someone. Nothing came of it. Then all these years later, it all comes out ... one of the boys that I had known there left as a young adult and still couldn't get it together, he eventually killed himself. As an adult now I don't often think back to those times but it still saddens me. All those boys that needed a safe nurturing place to be, and how many of them were better off for having been taken there? It's not about money. It cost these boys their lives, their souls, their trust. Those people who knew, who didn't care, they should feel such shame. Just my opinion.
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 1999 7:30 PM
Subject: Re: OKBR
thanks for your e-mail. from what i've read, dshs, the olympia police department, and other "authorities" didn't consider child on child rape to be against the law. it was considered "normal experimentation". The "paulette" you mention, may have been Collette Queener who was an assistant director at the OKBR. Collette, OKBR Director Tom Van Woerdan, and OKBR counselor Laura Rambo Russell were ineptly charged by Wa. St. with "criminal mistreatment for failing to stop abuse". The charges were dismissed by Thurston County Judge Daniel Berschauer on technicalities. The lawyer who represented Collette Queener said, (Nov. 14, 1996 Olympian), that it was a "witch hunt", and that " a more innocent person (than Queener) you could not have for a client. She's an ex-nun ..... I don't see how you could view her in an evil or negative light."
I congratulate you for doing the right thing, when all those adults looked the other way. I repeat on most pages that the " OKBR has cost the Washington State taxpayers over $35 million dollars (so far)", because I think most people don't care about the kids involved, but they may care that it has cost them (taxpayers) money.
From: louis a bloom email@example.com