THE GREEN HILL SCHOOL IN CHEHALIS, WASHINGTON, ISN’T REALLY A SCHOOL AT ALL. IT’S A JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY FOR MEDIUM- AND MAXIMUM-SECURITY JUVENILE OFFENDERS.
But the worst offenders at the Green Hill School aren’t the boys incarcerated there: rather, they’re among the adults entrusted to rehabilitate and protect those children.
THE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE
For a decade or more, the Green Hill School has been home to a pervasive culture of sexual abuse where, according to criminal charges and civil complaints, it has been “common” for the female counselors, guards, and staff to “engage in sexually inappropriate relationships with the [minor] residents.”
Today, criminal charges are pending against at least one of the perpetrators, and civil lawsuits have been filed against the state of Washington and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversees the Green Hill School.
The complainants—now adults, referred to only by their initials to protect their privacy—report that they were repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted for the duration of their sentences. They were threatened with punishment if they fought back. When they did report the abuse to male staffers, their complaints were ignored. Investigations, if they occurred at all, were haphazard and quickly concluded, without intervention. One survivor states that he tried to call the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) hotline but was prevented from using the phone.
Make no mistake: the Green Hill School’s administration has long known that the juveniles in its care are being sexually assaulted by employees. According to complaints, supervisors did more than just cover for employees: they often “actively condoned the abuse.” The Green Hill School, the State of Washington, and the Washington DSHS have all negligently failed to supervise their employees or protect the children in their care.
This isn’t the first time.
In 2009, a cook at the Green Hill School was convicted of custodial sexual misconduct and sentenced to 30 days in jail. At that time, she told investigators that at least five other staff members were having sexual relations with inmates and that the school had a “culture of sexual misconduct.”
The facility’s superintendent responded that, despite the allegations, no one had been fired. In fact, even after hearing about pervasive sexual abuse by Green Hill School employees, she said that she “would never ask for someone to resign.”
Just recently, another survivor came forward to make criminal allegations against a Green Hill School counselor. The counselor was convicted—but served only two weeks in jail, a slap on the wrist far below the usual six- to 12-month sentencing range.
HOW YOU CAN STOP THE CYCLE OF SEXUAL ABUSE
The criminal justice system hasn’t yet taken this pattern of abuse seriously. But we do.
We know that there are more survivors who have been afraid to come forward. If you have a story to tell about abuse at the Green Hill School, please give us a call. We can help.