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Morning Star Boys’ Ranch

Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, a Spokane boys’ home, is an institution beloved by many. Others, however, say the ranch was a place where they endured physical and sexual abuse. Follow the investigation here.

2 jurors removed from Boys’ Ranch case

Two jurors will be removed from deliberations in the Morning Star Boys' Ranch sexual abuse case because of misconduct. Two alternate jurors will be brought in.

Jury deliberates abuse case

Jurors in the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch trial began deliberations Tuesday afternoon after opposing attorneys tried to define the case as all about accountability or all about profit. “This case is about years and years of a gross violation of the public trust that continues today,” said Daniel Fasy, attorney for Kenneth Putnam, who is suing the group home for troubled boys where he was a resident in 1988 and ’89.

Morning Star abuse case goes to jurors

Jurors in the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch trial began deliberations Tuesday afternoon after opposing attorneys tried to define the case as all about accountability or all about profit.

Defense questions accuser

Attorneys defending Morning Star Boys’ Ranch rested their case on Monday after bringing the ranch’s accuser, Kenneth Putnam, to the stand in the civil trial’s last day of testimony. Closing arguments are expected today in the first of 19 separate lawsuits filed in Spokane County Superior Court against the Spokane residential facility for troubled boys.

Accuser takes the stand again in Morning Star trial

Attorneys defending Morning Star Boys’ Ranch rested their case on Monday after bringing the ranch’s accuser, Kenneth Putnam, to the stand in the civil trial’s last day of testimony.
The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner waits in the fourth-floor hallway of the Spokane County Courthouse to testify in the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch trial on Wednesday. (Dan Pelle)

Former ranch director denies abuse allegations

The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner said Thursday that he would sometimes get angry during his 52-year career at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, but that he “never, never” sexually abused the boys in his care. “I was a parent, and I did things that parents do,” said Morning Star’s former director, adding that included losing his temper at times.

Lawyer refutes payoff claim

A former attorney for Morning Star Boys’ Ranch rebutted the testimony of a witness who said the ranch’s former director paid him to keep quiet about alleged abuse in the late 1970s. Matthew Daley testified Tuesday that he never discussed the alleged payoff with a potential witness he interviewed in 2005 while working for Keefe, King and Bowman, a now-defunct Spokane law firm that once represented the home for troubled boys.

Testimony contests abuse claim

A former resident of Morning Star Boys’ Ranch testified Monday that Kenneth Putnam was motivated by financial gain in suing the ranch for alleged abuse. Spokane County Superior Court jurors heard from four former residents of the group home for troubled boys. All said they had never seen any inappropriate behavior by then-director the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner or counselor Doyle Gillum, now deceased.

Putnam often combative, witness says

A former Morning Star Boys’ Ranch employee and close friend of a counselor accused of abusing a former ranch resident testified Thursday that he never saw inappropriate conduct. Ray Roberts, 44, worked for Morning Star during the time Kenneth Putnam was sent there as a ward of the state at age 12. Putnam, now 34, is suing Morning Star in Spokane County Superior Court, claiming to have been physically and sexually abused by ranch director Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner and counselor Doyle Gillum, now deceased.

Blog Posts

Boys’ ranch accuser already had settlement

Although a jury last month rejected Kenneth Putnam’s sex abuse allegations against Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, the Catholic Diocese of Spokane had already paid Putnam a settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.The award to Putman is among 10 such settlements totaling more than $3...

2 jurors dismissed from Boys’ Ranch case

Two jurors will be removed from deliberations in the Morning Star Boys' Ranch sexual abuse case because of misconduct. The two discussed the case outside of deliberations, which led Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor to dismiss them this morning. Two alternate jurors will be brought...
 The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner waits in the fourth-floor hallway of the Spokane County Courthouse to testify in the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch trial on Wednesday. 
 (Dan Pelle)

Ranch trial could go to jury Tuesday

Closing arguments are expected tomorrow in the Morning Star Boys' Ranch sex abuse trial. The lengthy trial is the first of more than a dozen cases that could go to trial in Spokane County Superior Court.On Thursday, the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner (pictured above) said that...

Big day in Boys’ Ranch abuse trial

An unexpected witness may testify that former Morning Star Boys’ Ranch director Joseph Weitensteiner had him procure boys for sex and then gave him money to keep it quiet years later, according to a motion today in the first sex-abuse trial against the ranch. The...

Boys’ ranch trial enters day 2

Either Morning Star Boys’ Ranch management turned a blind eye to decades of child sexual abuse or it is being persecuted by discreditable former residents looking to make a buck. Those were the strategies outlined by legal adversaries in the first of 19 lawsuits against...

Slight delay in Morning Star Boy’s Ranch trial

The first of numerous lawsuits alleging abuse of a former resident of Morning Star Boys Ranch was delayed today while the Spokane County Superior Court judge assigned to hear it reviews pretrial motions in the case, Kevin Graman reports. Trial of the civil case, brought...