February 22, 1998 in City

Gregoire Apologizes For Ok Boys Ranch Oversight

Associated Press

State Attorney General Christine Gregoire apologized for the failure of the state to turn over key documents that would have helped a lawsuit filed on behalf of boys who said they were abused at the OK Boys Ranch group home here.

An arbitrator ruled that state lawyers wrongfully withheld documents damaging their own case and provided other documents that had been altered.

The actions led to a $417,500 fine against the state last week - the largest sanction of its kind in state history.

“The whole situation is very regrettable, but the bottom line is that I accept the finding that the documents should have been produced and were not,” Gregoire told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “… I’m not excusing anything here.

“This has just been a tragic case, and it’s important to remember that the boys at Boys Ranch were wronged,” she said. When asked if she regretted the state’s handling of the matter, Gregoire said, yes, she was sorry.

The state previously paid more than $8.5 million to settle three lawsuits.

A fourth lawsuit by other boys is scheduled for trial this fall.

Plaintiffs said they were physically and sexually abused by other residents and staffers at the state-licensed group home, operated by the Kiwanis Club of Olympia.

OK Boys Ranch was shut down in 1994 after a nearly $4.2 million settlement was reached in the first lawsuit, which had been filed in 1993.

Some former residents of the group home, who are adults, have used their money to buy homes or start businesses.

All will need therapy and counseling for the rest of their lives, said David Paul, a Portland attorney who represented some of the boys.

“They are carrying a lot of scarring from their time at the OK Ranch,” Paul told the newspaper. “We hope all our clients do well in their careers and lives.”

One OK Boys Ranch resident committed suicide last year just a few blocks from the group home.

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