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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
March 5, 2024

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Deputies search Daybreak Youth Services regarding multiple allegations of sexual misconduct

Warrants served in 6 incidents regarding unlawful sexual conduct between clients, a staffer and failure to report

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter

Clark County sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday served a series of search warrants at Daybreak Youth Services in Brush Prairie as part of an investigation into allegations of unlawful sexual contact between clients, between a staff member and client, and for failure to report criminal conduct as required.

The sheriff’s office said it has been investigating the allegations at the youth outpatient and inpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment facility, at 11910 N.E. 154th St., since early June.

Deputies served six warrants related to six different incidents, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators were also serving warrants to Microsoft and Qualifacts Systems Incorporated, asking those businesses to preserve digital records.

“The sheriff’s office surprised us today by serving search warrants at our facility without notice,” Carl Griffin, president of Daybreak Youth Services’ governing board, said in a written statement. “We are trying to determine the nature of the (sheriff’s) 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,” he added.

The sheriff’s office notified the Washington State Department of Health, the facility’s regulatory agency, of the investigation.

David Johnson, a state health department spokesman, said the department is cooperating with the sheriff’s office.

“We are running a concurrent investigation. As part of our health system quality assurance mission and in association with our affiliated boards and commissions, we regulate health care providers and facilities. That includes investigating and prosecuting complaints against them,” Johnson said in an email.

In a letter to the health department sent June 7, Sheriff Chuck Atkins said deputies had been responding to a growing number of calls at the facility for runaways, fights and sexual assaults.

“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,” Atkins wrote. “We are also concerned the staff is reluctant, either on their own initiative or by direction from management, to report crimes or disturbances occurring at the facility.”

Atkins said deputies responded to a disturbance at Daybreak Youth Services on May 28 and spoke to staff about the facility’s conditions.

In that report, Atkins said a deputy recalled multiple staff members saying they frequently “lose control” at the facility, and were told not to call 911.

“Dispatch confirmed that an unidentified person called 911, and it did not come from the staff,” the deputy wrote, “even after losing total control of the youth inside.”

Clark County Juvenile Court Administrator Christine Simonsmeier said court staff and Superior Court judges, after learning of the sheriff’s office’s investigation, in late June ceased recommending the facility’s inpatient services to families and guardians, who ultimately make the decision of what services to use.

“Our practice has been to express to parents that we have concerns about safety and supervision within the facility,” she said. “We do hope they can resolve the concerns quickly, because otherwise, kids have to travel, mostly to Spokane, to receive this level of service, which can be difficult for families.”

Along with records pertaining to specific incidents of alleged misconduct, the sheriff’s office filed search warrants for intake and discharge records, disciplinary records, documentation regarding mandatory reporting of assaults and other misconduct, client records, shift notes and video surveillance, among other records.

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The agency said no arrests have been made in the investigation, and the case has not been forwarded to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The sheriff’s office asks any current Daybreak Youth Services staff who may have information relevant to the investigation to contact Sgt. Chris Luque at 360-397-2211, ext. 5626, or chris.luque@clark.wa.gov. The agency also asked any current or former clients, and parents or guardians of current or former clients, to reach out.

Daybreak Youth Services began in Spokane in 1978 and expanded to Clark County about two decades ago. Altogether, the youth treatment program serves more than 1,000 people annually. It provides both inpatient and outpatient treatment services to teens struggling with addiction.

The 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art RWC Center for Adolescent Recovery opened in May 2017. It has 43 residential treatment beds, three detox beds and 12 mental health evaluation and treatment beds for youth — a service that wasn’t available to Clark County youth prior to the center’s opening.

Boys and girls, ages 12 to 18, are housed in separate wings. They have separate communal living rooms, small-group meeting rooms and classrooms, and will never interact, Daybreak said in April 2017. All doors require key cards to open.

Reporters Wyatt Stayner and Patty Hastings contributed to this report.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter