Sheriff: Reports of 'unlawful sexual contact' at Clark Co. youth recovery center
BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. – Deputies served search warrants Tuesday at a Clark County youth services office after getting reports of possible “unlawful sexual contact” -- both involving the underage clients and staff members.
The investigation started in early June when the Clark County Sheriff’s Office received reports of underage people at the Daybreak Youth Services center having sex, and possible sexual abuse between a staff member and a youth.
In a press release, the sheriff’s office said Daybreak Youth Services allegedly “failed to report criminal sexual conduct” as required under the state’s mandatory reporting laws.
In Washington state, the legal age of consent is 16 years old. The law states that kids 15 years old or younger are not legally able to consent to sex.
A current employee says the facility is failing its clients. KATU is calling the employee Jane, as she did not want to be identified for fear of losing her job. She claims an older male staffer sexually assaulted several underage girl clients in their room.
"I work with these kids every day. They come to me with their stories, and it's heartbreaking. To hear some of their stories of abuse in homes, and they come here for a safe place and you're being abused by staff who are supposed be helping and supporting them," she said. "I would not recommend anybody to send their children here nor would I put my own children in here."
She claims she and other staff members have reported the allegations to their superiors, and they brushed them off.
"We're supposed to be helping these kids. We're supposed to be providing a safe environment. What goes through my mind the first thing I hear this is, this is why these kids do what they do," said Jane.
Jane says she no longer feels safe working at the facility.
On Tuesday afternoon, the sheriff’s office served search warrants related to six different incidents under investigation. The warrants are for written documents, video footage, email records, computer records, or any other evidence that could be tied to the investigation.
They also have warrants for Microsoft and Qualifacts Systems to preserve some digital records stored on their servers.
The sheriff’s office reported the allegations to the Washington State Department of Health back on June 7, after they first received the reports. The department is also investigating the reports.
In the letter, Sheriff Chuck Atkins wrote the department responded to several calls for service at the facility, citing "juvenile runaways, physical altercations, and sexual assaults." He added, "Through our contacts with staff and clients at the facility, we are now concerned for the safety of the staff working in the facility as well as the youth who are receiving treatment at the facility."
Daybreak Youth Services opened the Brush Prairie Office in May 2017. The nonprofit specializes in helping teen boys and girls kick their addictions. The center offers beds for dozens of teens, mental health services, detox and outpatient treatments. It's one of the few facilities of its kind in the I-5 corridor from Oregon to Washington.
Investigators are asking any current or former employees, clients, or parents of clients at Daybreak with relevant information to call (360) 397-2211 ext. 5626 or email Sgt. Chris Luque at Chris.Luque@clark.wa.gov.
Below is a statement from Daybreak youth Services sent to KATU News Tuesday evening:
The sheriff's office surprised us today by serving search warrants at our facility without notice. We are trying to determine the nature of the sheriff office's investigation. In the meantime, we have been advised by our legal counsel not to offer any comment, at least until we have been provided with more information. Our goal is to cooperate with any investigation so that Daybreak Youth Services can continue our mission of serving youth.
President, Governing Board
Daybreak Youth Services