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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In September 1995, Governor Mike Lowry directed the Washington State Patrol to conduct an administrative investigation of the Department of Social and Health Services' (DSHS) involvement with the Olympia Kiwanis Boys Ranch (OKBR) in Thurston County.
The Governor instructed the State Patrol to:
Identify any incidents of misconduct on the part of DSHS employees.
Identify any outside influences which may have affected these employees in their responsibility for oversight of the OKBR.
Identify and report any systemic issues within DSHS, which may have impacted this agency's ability to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their clients-the children entrusted to state care.
The OKBR was a nonprofit corporation formed in September 1969. The OKBR was a facility designed to provide residential care and treatment to adolescent boys. The home provided group care to youths and was a contracted foster care placement agency. The OKBR was licensed by and had a contract with DSHS to provide program services and to ensure the health, safety, and well being of the residents.
The OKBR Board of Directors was the governing body of the OKBR and had the responsibility of direct oversight of the operations of the OKBR, especially with regard to personnel and budgetary issues. The Articles of Incorporation and By Laws of the OKBR Corporation stated Board members shall be those persons who have been elected to membership, and who are also members in good standing of the Olympia Kiwanis Club.
The original Executive Director of the OKBR was Tom Van Woerden. Van Woerden remained in this position until his resignation in January 1993.
From December of 1987 until its closure in September of 1994, residents of the OKBR were involved in a series of events involving incidents of physical abuse and sexual assault. Much of this abuse was inflicted by the residents on one another.
Van Woerden's resignation in 1993 came as a result of:
Ongoing allegations of abuse.
Allegations of his inability to appropriately maintain control of the individuals in his care and custody.
Allegations he had failed to report incidents of abuse as required by statute, licensing, and contractual agreements.
In late 1992, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office a police report from the Olympia Police Department and was considering charges against OKBR Director Tom Van Woerden, Assistant Director Collette Queener, and Social Worker Laura Rambo for violations of RCW 26.44.030 Failing to Report Sexual Abuse.
Van Woerden's attorney, Jerome Buzzard, negotiated with the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office for Van Woerden to resign as Director of the OKBR in lieu of prosecution.
The Thurston County Prosecutor's Office formally declined to prosecute Van Woerden on February 24, 1993, and no action was taken against Queener or Rambo.
In August 1994, Secretary Jean Soliz became fully aware of the history of problems at the OKBR and ordered an investigation of her agency's role in the monitoring and oversight of this facility. The investigation was assigned to the DSHS Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The OSI investigation was concluded in March 1995, at the request of Secretary Soliz.
Because of a perceived conflict of interest on the part of Prosecutor Patrick Sutherland of the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office, Governor Lowry-pursuant to RCW 43.10.232-asked the State Attorney General's Office to conduct a criminal investigation of the OKBR and to handle any prosecution that may result.' Sutherland felt there was a perceived conflict of interest, as he was a longtime member of the Olympia Kiwanis and his office had earlier declined to prosecute Van Woerden and others on February 24, 1993.
In early September 1995, Governor Mike Lowry directed the Washington State Patrol to complete the OSI administrative investigation concerning allegations of DSHS employee misconduct as it relates to the OKBR.
On October 16, 1995, the Washington State Patrol, Office of Professional Services, Internal Affairs Unit (WSP LA), initiated their investigation. This investigation was concluded on February 5, 1996.
This investigation and our report concentrates on the actions of current DSHS employees only.
Group home audits were conducted on a random basis by DSHS Office of Operations Review (OOR). The audit report on the OKBR from June 1989 revealed several deficiencies. In 1994, these deficiencies had not been corrected. Some of these same deficiencies were also identified in the previous audit conducted in 1981. Corrective action plans had been initiated, but there was only minimal follow up to ensure compliance by the OKBR.
DCFS had systems in place to ensure the residents of the OKBR were actually there; however, the systems were typically not used. A report compiled by the Thurston County Juvenile Court Administrator, and given to DCFS Region 6 management in 1986, showed that in a two year period from 1984 through 1986, OKBR residents spent in excess of 1,200 days in detention. At one point, DSHS was paying the OKBR for the care of residents, all of whom were actually in Thurston County Juvenile Detention.
Lack of oversight of relationships between DCFS employees and
those they regulated.
One of the group home monitors responsible for the oversight of the OKBR was a previous staff member at that facility, who had a strong personal relationship with its Director, Tom Van Woerden.
Lack of a tracking mechanism to prevent commingling of funds by group homes. (Identified in 1981 and 1988 OPS Review Audits.)
Monies received by the OKBR were put into a single account. Some of these funds were allocated to the OKBR for specific programs and services. There were no mechanisms in place to track how the money was spent.
The consensus of past and present DSHS administrators was that non profit organizations like the OKBR recruited its Board of Directors from influential members of the communities they serve. One function of these boards was to assist in obtaining needed resources and funding for group homes. According to the DSHS administrators, these board members would commonly use political connections at either the state or local level to assist in obtaining the needed resources and funding.
It was also the consensus of DSHS administrators that these board members would lobby their legislators on behalf of these non profit organizations. This lobbying effort would occur whenever DSHS would attempt to take any action or change programs that affected the resources and funding for group care facilities.
The concerns of these directors would ultimately be communicated to the Secretary of DSHS, who would attempt to assure the directors that their concerns would be addressed. The Secretary would also communicate these concerns down the DSHS chain of command, causing a perception of pressure being placed on administrators and employees within the agency who had the oversight responsibilities of these group homes.
The group most commonly mentioned by present and past DSHS administrators as applying influence for the OKBR and other group homes was the Federation of Group Care Providers (the Federation). The Director of the OKBR from 1969 until his resignation in 1993, was Tom Van Woerden. The Assistant Director was Collette Queener, who later became the Director of the OKBR after Van Woerden resigned. Both Van Woerden and Queener were members of the Federation.
It was common for the Federation, group home directors, and their supporters to contact legislators anytime DSHS tried to take any regulatory action impacting a group home. Ron Hertel, DSHS Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Program Manager, stated that when he attempted to have a Request For Proposal (RFP) or competitive bid go out to the group care providers, he would receive numerous telephone calls from legislators. These calls were on behalf of group care providers expressing the legislators' concern the RFP would put these group homes out of business. Hertelstated that when he explained to these legislators that he was putting an RFP out in order to obtain the best service for the dollar, they would agree with DSHS procedures and have no further contact with him. According to Hertel, the RFP would create more competition for the existing group homes, and these group homes did not want to deal with the competition.
Marv Christiansen, Group Care Coordinator for Region 6, stated that in the mid 1980's, there was a push from the Federation to increase political influence within their group. According to Christiansen, the Federation went on to become a strong political group which had influence over DSHS, as resources for group care within DSHS were shrinking.
In addition to groups like the Federation, individual Olympia Kiwanis members and the OKBR Board of Directors members would contact legislators and relay their concerns about the treatment of the OKBR by DSHS.
Don Ernst is a member of the Olympia Kiwanis and was an OKBR Board member. Ernst stated he was aware of the Federation and received mail from the group. Ernst told investigators that he had voiced his concerns about the treatment of the OKBR by DSHS to an Olympia Kiwanis member who was also a State Representative. Ernst stated he also made a point to contact another Olympia Kiwanis member, whose wife was a State Representative, about his concerns with DSHS.
Gary Bloomfield, who was a member of the Olympia Kiwanis and an OKBR Board member in 1986, is now the Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Washington. He stated the Olympia Kiwanis specifically recruited influential members of the local community. According to Bloomfield, the Kiwanis wanted people who had credibility, were influential in the area, and who were politically connected to the state government network in order to benefit the Kiwanis.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - On February 17, 1988, during an OKBR Board meeting, it was announced that the Olympia Kiwanis Board had approved the formation of the OKBR committee. It was noted that this should enable the attendees of the committee to "exert additional political muscle for the OKBR's benefit."
Because of this perceived pressure, as a result of calls to legislators by the Federation and other individuals, DSHS administrators and employees were hesitant to take action or change programs to benefit services if it would or could cost money to the group care providers.
On September 5, 1980, Edgbert donated 20 acres of property on Forbes Lake near Shelton to the OKBR for use by OKBR residents for rehabilitation, recreation, and training. One condition to the donation was a stipulation that the property be used by the OKBR at least once a year, or it would revert back to Edgbert.
At the November 30, 1981, OKBR Board of Directors meeting, Van Woerden announced that a $50,000 lawsuit had been filed by the parents of the girl assaulted by John Doe 4. John Doe 4, Edgbert, Hanning, DSHS, the OKBR, and Van Woerden were named as defendants in the suit.
During the July 13, 1983, OKBR Board of Directors meeting, Van Woerden announced that the lawsuit had been settled out of court for $45,000. DSHS paid $11,000, the OKBR paid $19,000, and Edgbert and Hanning paid $15,000.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - In 1993, the OKBR Board members Jane Skinner and Jeff Lane contacted Edgbert and Hanning regarding the lake property. Lane stated he pressured Edgbert and Hanning to sign the title to the property over to the OKBR so it could be sold. In May of 1993, the OKBR Board sold the property for $125, 000. Discussion among the Board members on the sale of the property dates back to 1983.
After the incident involving resident John Doe 4, OKBR continued to send residents to Edgbert and Hanning for weekend visits.
On October 10, 1980, John Doe 7, a resident of the OKBR, was sent to the Bremerton residence of Edgbert and Hanning for a weekend visit. (Edgbert and Hanning's foster home license had been expired for two months when John Doe 7 was sent for this visit.) During this visit, Hanning sexually assaulted John Doe 7. Hanning was later arrested and convicted for this assault. The police investigation into the assault on John Doe 7 revealed that Hanning had also sexually assaulted three other boys from the OKBR during similar weekend visits.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - As indicated on Edgbert and Hanning's foster home license, it is valid only at Route 3, Box 462, Shelton WA 98584. The sexual assaults involving John Doe 7 and the other OKBR residents occurred at 2603 North Lafayette in the city of Bremerton. Investigators were unable to locate any documentation to indicate that Edgbert and Hanning were ever relicensed as foster parents.
On October 14, 1980, the OKBR Board of Directors met to discuss action to be taken as a result of the sexual assault. During the meeting, it was decided that all affected agencies and individuals be notified of the incident. Included in this notification was the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney, Patrick Sutherland, even though the assault occurred in Kitsap County.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - Patrick Sutherland, who died in August 1995, was a member of the Olympia Kiwanis .
Olympia Kiwanis BOYS RANCH BOARD OF DIRECTORS
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - Kiwanis Vocational Home (KVH) was a group home in Centralia. KVH was licensed and contracted by DSHS to provide group core for boys. In 1990, the Office of State Auditor conducted a special audit of the Kiwanis Vocational Home (KVH) in Centralia. The audit found an overpayment to KVH by DSHS of over $200, 000, which also was never recovered by DSHS. The Director of KVH, Charles McCarty, later resigned, and in 1991, KVH was closed by DSHS for ongoing uncorrected deficiencies. In reviewing the OKBR audit and the KVH audit, there appear to be similar findings and the same lack of oversite by DSHS over these group homes. The same law firm that represented the OKBR and Tom Van Woerden--Buzzard, Darkenwald & Allen -also represented the KVH Board of Directors.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - From 1990 to 1993,Sutherland was the vice president of the Olympia Kiwanis Club. He was a member of the Olympia Kiwanis in 1969 when the OKBR was founded. In 1969, Sutherland was chairman of the City of Olympia Board of Adjustment when the Olympia Kiwanis requested a zoning variance so the OKBR could be built. When Sutherland approved the variance, he was a deputy prosecuting attorney for the Thurston County Prosecutors Office.
On July 28, 1992, Gassett went to Thurston County
Deputy Prosecutor Jim Powers to obtain a search warrant for records
at the OKBR. Powers stated he and Gassett contacted Thurston County
Superior Court Judge William Thomas McPhee to ask for a subpoena
for the records. According to Powers, McPhee instructed him to
draft a legal memorandum, outlining what authority McPhee had
to grant a subpoena for the records. Powers stated this was an
unusual request from a judge in this type of situation.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - When interviewed, Powers stated that when Gassett contacted him, she made the request for a subpoena, not a search warrant.
Powers stated when Judge McPhee ultimately granted a subpoena for the OKBR records, Buzzard attempted to have the subpoena quashed. According to Powers, he later agreed to allow Buzzard to deliver the requested records. Powers stated that when he received the records, he was surprised about the small amount of documentation that was produced.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - At Buzzard's request, the actual subpoena was sealed and remains sealed today.
When Powers was interviewed by Internal Affairs, he stated he had never been contacted by anyone in his office regarding the OKBR When investigators reviewed his file on the case, it contained the letters from Buzzard to Sutherland and Gassett.
In September of 1992, Gassett completed her investigation into the events at the OKBR. Chief Wurner had the Olympia City Prosecutor, Reiko Callner, review the case to determine if charges should be filed against Van Woerden, assistant OKBR Director Collette Oueener, and OKBR Social Worker Laura Rambo. According to Chief Wurner, Callner felt there was a strong case against Van Woerden, Queener, and Rambo for failing to report the incidents of sexual assaults in June and July to the police. Chief Wurner indicated, even though there was a strong case against the OKBR staff under state law, there were no applicable city ordinances under which to charge them.
On October 2, 1992, Chief Wurner and Callner met with Sutherland and Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Gary Tabor to discuss the possibility of the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office charging Van Woerden, Queener, and Rambo. According to Chief Wurner, he recommended they be charged and offered Callner to prosecute the case and a detective for follow-up investigation, if needed. Chief Wurner stated Sutherland and Tabor turned down his offer of assistance and advised they would make the charging decision.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - In 1989, prior to becoming the Olympia City Attorney, Callner was an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) and represented the CPS division of DSHS. While she was an AAG, Callner also worked part-time in the Juvenile Prosecution Unit of the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office under Sutherland.
When interviewed, Callner stated she also recommended to Sutherland and Tabor that charges be made against Van Woerden, Queener, and Rambo. She stated Chief Wurner did offer her services to prosecute and the services of a detective to assist with the case, but the offer was turned down by Sutherland and Tabor.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - When Tabor was interviewed, he stated that during the meeting with Chief Wurner and Callner, he asked Callner to prosecute the case, but she declined, saying she was too busy.
Tabor went on to say that in October, after the meeting with Chief Wurner and Callner, Sutherland arranged to have him meet with Olympia Kiwanis members Bob Van Schoorl, Jane Skinner, and Don Ernst to discuss the OKBR investigation. Van Schoorl was the President of the Olympia Kiwanis , Skinner was the President of the OKBR Board of Directors, and Ernst was a past OKBR Board member. According to Tabor, Sutherland was concerned about the management at the OKBR and felt that the Board of Directors needed to know what was going on. Tabor stated the Kiwanis members wanted a copy of the investigation. Tabor went on to say he refused to release the report unless Van Woerden gave his permission for the report to be released.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - During this time, Sutherland was the Vice President of the Olympia Kiwanis Club.
Tabor stated he later received permission from Van Woerden to release a copy of the police report to the Olympia Kiwanis Board of Directors. He made a copy of the report for Sutherland who, in turn, gave it to Van Schoorl. Tabor also believed he released a copy of the report to Jerome Buzzard, who was not only the attorney for the OKBR, but Van Woerden's private attorney. Tabor released the report sometime in October 1992. According to Tabor, the case was still an ongoing police investigation when he released copies of the report; however, he did not feel the release would jeopardize the case. Tabor stated it was his decision to release the report, and he cited his authority to do this under RCW 10.97, which states that police reports can be released by the Prosecutors Office to the victims. Tabor stated on previous occasions, he has released a report prior to a charging decision and prior to going to trial if he feels releasing the report will not jeopardize his criminal case. Tabor also stated he did not advise the Olympia Police Department about the release of the report. This report was released prior to the official decline by the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office on February 24, 1993.
During the latter part of November 1992, Assistant Secretary of DSHS Jean Soliz stated she received and reviewed the police reports. On December 4, 1992, Soliz met with the OKBR Board of Directors to express her concerns about the OKBR and gave them an ultimatum to remove Van Woerden as Director.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - Brian Fischnaller was an OKBR Board member and was running for the position of Thurston County Prosecutor when he died in 1994. According to his widow, Jane Sands, sometime prior to Van Woerden resigning as Director of the OKBR, Fischnaller told Sutherland the Kiwanis should dismiss Van Woerden as the Director or Sutherland's office would have to charge Van Woerden.
Sometime in December 1992, Buzzard contacted Tabor and negotiated an agreement with him not to prosecute Van Woerden if he agreed to step down as the Director of the OKBR. Tabor stated he was unaware the Kiwanis had already decided to have Van Woerden resign in response to Assistant Secretary Soliz's demand.
Tabor stated he felt the Olympia Police Department had conducted a thorough investigation into the events involving sexual assaults that occurred at the OKBR on June 14, 1992, and June 29, 1992. He did not feel he could successfully prosecute a case against Van Woerden, Queener, and Rambo for failing to report the incidents, and declined to prosecute the case. According to Tabor, he felt the ultimate goal of the investigation was to remove Van Woerden as Director of the OKBR. Since Van Woerden resigned in lieu of criminal charges being filed, he felt the Prosecutor's Office had been successful in removing Van Woerden as Director.
Tabor felt that since Van Woerden had been removed as Director of the OKBR, he felt the problem had been solved. As a result, Queener and Rambo were not charged. He also stated that he did not think that Queener would become the Director and was disappointed when he heard that she had.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - On January 1, 1993, Queener was appointed as Acting Director and later became the permanent Director of the OKBR.
In November of 1993, a third allegation of possible influence may have occurred involving an incident with members of the OKBR Board of Directors and DCFS personnel. In November 1993, Sue Corwin, a Licensor with DCFS Region 6, went to the OKBR with fellow Licensor Bill Cleveland. Corwin and Cleveland were at the OKBR to investigate a possible licensing situation involving the sexual activity of one of the residents. Corwin stated that during her visit of the OKBR, she was confronted by Bob Denning, Don Ernst, and Jane Skinner, who were all members of the OKBR Board of Directors. According to Corwin, she was told to leave and not to return without notifying them first, which she did without finishing her investigation.
Corwin stated that after this visit, she had made numerous other visits to the OKBR prior its closure in September 1994. These subsequent visits were made only after notification to the OKBR Board of Directors per their instruction.
When questioned by investigators, Denning and Ernst stated Corwin was harassing Queener and had come to the OKBR unannounced. They both stated Corwin was asked to leave and not to come back without the knowledge of the OKBR Board of Directors.
INVESTIGATOR'S NOTE - In order to effectively
perform their duties, Licensors routinely make unannounced visits
to group homes in response to incidents and complaints.
Below is an e-mail I received from a former Olympia, Washington resident.
From: louis a bloom email@example.com
To: Louis 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