Olympia Kiwanis Boys ranch draws another sex abuse lawsuit

The News Tribune

July 30, 2009

Shut down in 1994: In filing against Kiwanis, state, man alleges abuse at group foster home

A man who attended the defunct Olympia Kiwanis Boys Ranch has sued the Kiwanis Club of Olympia and the state, alleging that he suffered “mistreatment, sexual exploitation and deprivation of the most basic human needs” while he was a resident at the foster home in the 1980s.

The Department of Social and Health Services shut down the group foster home in 1994, after decades of allegations that staff members were physically, emotionally and sexually abusing residents.

Lincoln Beauregard, an attorney for the former boys ranch resident, said DSHS is named because “they placed kids there and then they had indications that kids were being abused, and they either failed to take action or they never checked on them.”

Glenn Kuper, a spokesman for the state Office of Financial Management, said Tuesday that the state has paid $26 million to plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits based on allegations of abuse at the Olympia Kiwanis Boys Ranch. That figure does not include legal fees, he said.

A spokesman for DSHS said he was unaware of the suit and that he could not comment pending litigation. Officials at the Kiwanis Club of Olympia could not be reached for comment.

Beauregard declined to give his client’s name, age or place of residence. The plaintiff is identified in the suit only by his initials.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Thurston County Superior Court. The statute of limitations in sexual-abuse lawsuits requires plaintiffs to sue within three years of becoming aware of their injuries, allowing lawsuits to be filed many years after the alleged abuse.

Beauregard’s firm, Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma, has represented the majority of the plaintiffs who have sued the state and the Kiwanis Club of Olympia over mistreatment of young people at the ranch, Beauregard said.

He said another man will be added as a second plaintiff in the suit soon.

Beauregard said allegations of mistreatment at the boys ranch began in the 1970s. Staff members reportedly were sexually involved with dozens of boys there, he said. Beauregard said that in addition to being sexually abused, his client was subjected to brutal treatment, including having to clean up roadside trash at night when he had to dodge traffic.

Staff members at the boys ranch also permitted children to abuse one another, and there were “even reports where young men would be having orgies at the ranch and the staff would find out and they wouldn’t do anything about it,” he said.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465

jpawloski@theolympian.com