Four more men have filed abuse lawsuits against the Morning Star Boys' Ranch, bringing the total to 13 plaintiffs in three cases against...
SPOKANE, Wash. — Four more men have filed abuse lawsuits against the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, bringing the total to 13 plaintiffs in three cases against the camp for troubled youngsters.
Two of the four whose cases were filed Monday in Spokane County Superior Court, Raymond Nelson, 50, and Robert Gariepy, 38, claim they were sexually abused in the 1970s and ’80s by the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, former director of the Roman Catholic-run camp south of the city.
The other two new plaintiffs, Curtis Stump, 42, and Glenn Anderson, 41, accused former Morning Star counselor James Clarke of sexually abusing them. Clarke was previously accused of molesting another resident who sued the ranch in 2005.
Weitensteiner, 74, resigned last year following claims of sexual and physical abuse at the camp, which was opened in 1956 and has had a total of about 1,300 residents, many of whom had been involved in juvenile justice and child welfare matters.
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Morning Star spokeswoman Jenn Kantz said late Monday that Weitensteiner was not available for comment and that neither camp officials nor the camp’s lawyer had seen the documents and thus could not comment.
In 2005, the same year the first of the abuse lawsuits were filed, The Spokesman-Review reported there had been repeated sexual and physical abuse of boys at Morning Star, based on records from the Department of Social and Health Services, court documents and interviews with former counselors and residents.
Last month, in a ruling on previous claims against Morning Star, a Superior Court judge ordered the ranch to release more than 1,000 personal files of former residents to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Four of the earlier plaintiffs have accused Weitensteiner of sexual abuse. In response to those cases, Weitensteiner has denied committing sexual abuse and Morning Star officials have said he passed a polygraph test.
“His denials have to be viewed with increasing skepticism given the mounting number of men who have come forward and explicitly described the sex abuse they suffered at his hands,” said Timothy D. Kosnoff of Seattle, a lawyer for eight plaintiffs.
Although Gariepy’s criminal record includes convictions for burglary, drug offenses and vehicle prowling, and Nelson also has a criminal history, “you have accounts that are so detailed and cross-corroborating,” Kosnoff said. “The grooming patterns, the information they know, it just could not have been made up.”