by Deborah Steele Hazen
A federal lawsuit was filed Oct. 15 alleging that the Clatskanie School District and Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) Principal Jeff Baughman failed to follow its own policies regarding sexual harassment and created “a hostile educational environment” that allowed acts of sextortion, bullying, harassment and assault which regularly took place over a period of at least three years.
Plaintiffs in the case are Josi Harrison and her mother Annie Harrison, Allysun Harkleroad and her mother Sundee Mohning, and Laura Lefebvre and her mother Jennifer Lefebrve.
The girls are minors, but have agreed to make their names public.
The federal suit, follows a civil lawsuit filed in Columbia County Circuit Court by Josi Harrison and her parents in June against five minors and 10 adults, the parents of the minors. The suit alleges the defendants’ involvement in the sextortion, bullying and sexual assault of Josi, beginning when she was 12 years old. That case, which has received regional and national media attention, is pending trial.
In the federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Portland Division, last week, Allysun Harkleroad and Laura Lefebvre, along with Josi Harrison, describe a series of events in which they were extorted to provide nude, semi-nude or sexually explicit photos of themselves, as well as being harassed and sexually and/or physically assaulted. The Harkleroad and Lefebvre girls were 12 and 13, respectively, at the time these incidents allegedly began.
The federal complaint, which demands a jury trial and seeks a minimum of $5 million in economic damages for each girl, further asserts that the school district failed to report the circulation of the nude photos to either the Oregon Department of Human Services or any law enforcement agency as required by law, and district policy.
Additionally, according to the 37-page lawsuit, the school didn’t inform the girls’ parents that their daughters were being sextorted and it refused to reveal what, if any, disciplinary actions were or would be taken against the boys involved.
According to Amber Lunsford, attorney for the plaintiffs, “Mr. Baughman and the school district knew this was going on, yet never investigated it, never prevented it from happening further, never implemented disciplinary actions, and never protected these girls. On top of that, the few measures that were taken involved limiting the girls’ access to educational and athletic opportunities, rather than putting such restraints on those who collected and traded the girls’ nude photos as though they were baseball cards.”
The suit describes a culture in which a game of collecting nude photos of female students went ignored by those in charge. CMHS computers were allegedly used to disseminate nude photos of one of the plaintiffs to other members of the student body.
The civil complaint claims that Josi Harrison suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and a stress-related heart condition as a result of these events. The other two girls reportedly attempted suicide after prolonged harassment and sextortion, according to the federal complaint.
Clatskanie School Superintendent Lloyd Hartley, who assumed his duties July 1 of this year, was not employed by the district at the time the incidents allegedly occurred. Hartley and Baughman both declined to comment on the case this week.
“It’s time to start a national conversation on these issues,” stated Lunsford. “Any young child of either gender, who finds themselves in an uncomfortable situation should be able to bring their concerns to a parent or responsible adult – but we also need to make sure that that adult is prepared to effectively deal with such situations when they arise.”
Halloween happenings in Clatskanie on Thursday, Oct. 31, will include trick-or-treating at Clatskanie businesses, a parade for grade school students and a Halloween carnival for all ages at the Quincy Grange.
In Rainier, a harvest party will be held on Halloween night at Riverside Community Church. Activities for all ages are planned.
Taking place this weekend is an Oktoberfest in Clatskanie on Saturday at the Catholic church. Haunted house tours resume on Friday and Saturday at the Beaver Homes Grange in Goble, and conclude with a final round of hauntings on Halloween night.
More details on each event are listed as follows.
An Oktoberfest celebration is being hosted by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Clatskanie this Saturday, Oct. 26, at the church hall located on SW High Street. featuring an authentic German cabbage roll lunch and bazaar.
A bazaar will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features authentic German cabbage rolls, a vegetable, dinner roll and apple crisp. Cost is $7.50, and orders to go will be available.
The bazaar will feature vendors selling various handmade items including jewelry, wooden trivets, toys, walking sticks, table runners and more.
Beaver Homes Grange Haunted House
Haunted house tours will resume on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26, at the Beaver Homes Grange hall in Goble.
Tours will be offered Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m. The haunted house will also be open on Halloween, Oct. 31, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Concessions and “fright-free” children’s games will be available downstairs, noted a grange spokesperson.
Admission is $5, children under six years are free. On Oct. 31, those who bring a canned food donation will receive $4 admission.
Signs will guide attendees onto Nicolai Road from Highway 30 to the grange hall located at 31105 Beaver Homes Road in Goble.
Trick or Treating at Clatskanie Businesses
In keeping with annual tradition, Clatskanie businesses will extend a welcome to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, under the sponsorship of the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce.
Participating businesses will distribute treats to children in costume on Thursday, Oct 31. Trick-or-treating will be available during normal operating hours at each location.
Businesses inviting trick-or-treaters on Halloween include: The Amber, Bag Ladies Yarn Shop, Big Guy’s Restaurant, Clatskanie Builders Supply, The Clatskanie Chief, Clatskanie City Hall, Clatskanie Computers, Clatskanie fire department main station, Clatskanie Insurance Agency, Clatskanie Library, Clatskanie Market, Clatskanie Mini Storage, Clatskanie Police Department, Clatskanie PUD, Clatskanie River Inn, Clatskanie Safeway, Clatskanie Subway, Colvin’s Pub and Grill, Conestoga Pub & Grill, Discounts & Deals, Dr. Briggs office, Eastside Plaza – Latté Da, Carla’s Closet and Clatskanie Floral, Evenson Logging, Flowers ‘N Fluff, Fultano’s Pizza Parlor, GreenWood Resources – Grannis Square, The Hair Place, Hazen Hardware, Hi-School Pharmacy, Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant, Jim’s Garage, M & N Workwear, NAPA Quality Auto Parts, Quilted Dandelion, Rockcrest Realty, Singing Dog Jewelry, Some Like It Hot, State Farm Insurance, Sterling Bank, Tri-City Insurance, Turning Point Community Service Center, Tyack Dental Group, US Bank, Wauna Federal Credit Union and Windermere/St. Helens Real Estate.
A chili feed at Flowers ‘N Fluff Thursday on Halloween from 4 to 6:30 p.m. will benefit Young Life and Wyldlife. Chili and hot dogs will be served free of charge and donations will go toward summer camp programs for local youth.
A Halloween parade is set Thursday, Oct. 31, in Clatskanie for students at Clatskanie Elementary School.
The parade of children in costume will start at the elementary school at 1:30 p.m. “rain or shine” and proceed down Nehalem Street, ending at the Clatskanie Police Department.
Members of the community are welcome to gather along Nehalem Street to watch the festivities.
“Trunk or Treat” at Faith Lutheran
Children are invited to “trunk or treat” on Halloween at Faith Lutheran Church in Clatskanie, 1010 NE 5th Street.
Church members will dispense treats from 4 to 6 p.m. to children in costume from the trunks of decorated cars parked in the church parking lot.
Quincy Grange Halloween Carnival
A Halloween carnival for all ages will be held at Quincy Grange on Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Planned activities include bingo, a cake walk, games and food.
Quincy Grange is located three and a half miles northeast of Clatskanie on Rutters Road.
Harvest Party in Rainier
Riverside Community Church in Rainier will hold its 10th annual harvest party on Halloween night, Oct. 31.
The party runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and is open to the community free of charge. There will be free food, carnival games with candy and prizes and bouncy houses for children of all ages.
A free concert for youth in 7th-12th grades will follow from 9 to 10 p.m.
The church is located at 305 West 3rd Street in the old Rainier elementary school building.
“Talking Tombstones” Graveside Tour
Clatsop County Historical Society will present its 10th annual “Talking Tombstones” event, in which historical society members take on roles of citizens from Astoria’s past.
This year’s “Talking Tombstones X – Don’t Take Them for Granite” will be held on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 1 p.m. until dusk at Ocean View Cemetery in Warrenton, located at the intersection of Delaura Beach Lane and Whiskey Road.
Those attending may participate in “graveside chats” at various tombstones. Visitors are encouraged to arrive no later than 3 p.m. in order to complete the tour by nightfall.
The event is free; however, donations are welcome.
For more information call 503 325-2203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Adam J. Wehrley
At the urging of Mayor Jerry Cole, the Rainier city council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the four-year operating levy for the Columbia County Jail, at its Monday, Oct. 21, meeting.
After a brief discuss in which several councilors and Mayor Cole expressed their support for the levy, which, if passed, will fund the housing of 100 local inmates at the jail, the council approved the resolution.
Chief Gregg Griffith noted that criminals are frequently released immediately from the jail, because of the cost of housing them.
Ballots for the levy have been mailed to Columbia County voters and are due Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Rail Concerns and Solutions Discussed
With rail safety and noise a constant concern for business owners and residents of Rainier, Mayor Cole initiated a discussion of a proposal before the Port of St. Helens which would allow Global Partners to increase their rail usage from 17 to 34 trains per month.
That was to be the topic of a Port of St. Helens commission meeting Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. at the Columbia River People’s Utility District meeting room in Deer Island.
Mayor Cole pointed out that Global’s Port Westward operation is not the only rail user shipping through Rainier. Log trains bound for the Teevin Bros. log yard and container trains used by the US Gypsum plant, both in West Rainier were mentioned.
Mayor Cole expressed confidence in Global as a corporation which would provide long-term family-wage jobs.
In recent meetings Cole has suggested that increases in rail traffic are inevitable, but has maintained a commitment to seeing safety and noise concerns addressed.
He asked the council what priorities they want to see for improving the rail lines. The council’s consensus was to work towards traffic gates, a quiet zone and an overpass to allow car traffic between the river and hill side of Rainier while trains are passing. They proposed that the best place for an overpass would be Veteran’s Way.
Councilor Sloan Nelson also expressed the desire to maintain the volume of parking available in downtown Rainier and noted concern over businesses being able to survive prolonged construction which could hinder customer access.
Mayor Cole acknowledged the county’s need for increased industrial property tax revenues saying, “We wouldn’t have ‘supporting the levy’ on our agenda if we had some improvements out there.”
Councilor Steve Massey questioned whether increased rail was, “coming no matter what.” Then said he wanted to be, “on the same page” as the rest of the council and placed emphasis on an overpass as a priority.
The council approved several resolutions setting emergency management policy.
At the request of Chief Griffith the council declared two police cars as surplus property and authorized the chief to sell or otherwise dispose of them.
Representatives from the Rainier Junior/Senior High School associated student body (ASB) visited the council to discuss joint projects. ASB president Tiffany Fletcher expressed the desire for the school to be a resource for the community and for increased involvement.
A long-time leaser of a slip at the Rainier Marina complained of recent price increases and a lack of security at the marina. He also stated that bathrooms are unavailable early in the morning and the council discussed possible solutions for that.
Mayor Cole clarified that the increase in cost was largely the result of a discontinuation of a discount for paying moorage fees yearly rather than monthly.
REDCO Discusses Projects
As directors of the Rainier Economic Development Council (REDCO) the councilors discussed progress on various projects at Riverside Park. Some trail paving has been completed for about $16,000.
Work on beach volleyball courts has been delayed by weather and the high cost of transporting sand from the coast, estimated at $6500.
The REDCO board also discussed trail lighting, and irrigation for planned expansion of grassed areas.
A meeting of the advisory board of the Rural Law Enforcement Advisory Committee, hosted by the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office, is set for Monday, Oct. 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Westport Community Church (old school building), 49246 Highway 30, in Westport.
The advisory board meetings serve as an opportunity for the sheriff’s office to brief the board and residents on the activities and programs the sheriff’s office is conducting in the Westport area.
On the agenda for the meeting are reports and updates regarding the marine division, operations, budget and staffing plans.
The public is invited to attend and speak about their issues, concerns and suggestions.
At the conclusion of the meeting the Sheriff Tom Bergin will be available to talk with anyone on any issue of interest.
LIFTING THE VEIL from the newly-installed historical sign in Rainier Riverfront Park, which recognizes Rainier’s founder Charles E. Fox, are speakers at the Oct. 19th sign ceremony.
At left, in period dress is Andrew Demko, social studies teacher and advisor to the Rainier Junior/Senior High School history club, whose members also came in 1850s attire. Demko conceived the idea for the sign two years ago and worked with Friends of Fox Creek and the City of Rainier to bring it to fruition.
Other speakers at the noon event (from left) were: Associated Student Body president Tiffany Fletcher, Rainier city councilor and high school teacher David Sills, Friends of Fox Creek board member Darrel Whipple, State Representative Brad Witt, Rainier Masonic Lodge officer Dearl Taylor, whose group provided the portrait of Charles Fox for the sign, and Larry Cole, chairman of the Columbia County Cultural Coalition board.
Production of the sign was funded by a grant awarded to Friends of Fox Creek by the Columbia County Cultural Coalition, through the Oregon Cultural Trust’s sale of “culture” license plates and from tax-credit donations by individual taxpayers.
Photo Courtesy of Friends of Fox Creek