For years, a former resident of the Hanna Boys Center was taken off site by his assigned counselor and driven to the man’s home, where he endured repeated sexual abuse, fearing he’d be turned out and homeless if he reported the crimes, according to new accusations described in a civil lawsuit.
Now 25, the man has come forward to join others claiming Hanna’s former clinical director, Kevin Thorpe, took advantage of his position of authority at the Catholic treatment home for abused and neglected children, flagrantly shirking policies that might have prevented such abuse from taking place.
“This is basically a predator that remained unchecked and was serial in his grooming and his singling out of his victims,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Dan Beck. “I can tell you that this particular story has been catastrophic to those involved.”
The man is among an undisclosed number of former residents of the Sonoma Valley facility to emerge with claims they were abused by Thorpe. Sonoma County prosecutors have not yet charged Thorpe with a crime related to those latest allegations.
Thorpe, who briefly appeared in Sonoma County Superior Court Wednesday and delayed entering a plea, has been charged with felony child abuse involving repeated molestation of two other boys, and county sheriff’s detectives are investigating whether there are other victims.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said he couldn’t yet say whether they will charge Thorpe with additional crimes. He is due back in court next Wednesday.
The lawsuit filed Aug. 18 is one of two lodged against Thorpe, the Hanna Boys Center and the Santa Rosa Diocese of the Catholic Church describing abuse of former residents over a period of years starting in 2006 and lasting until 2012.
Thorpe’s lawyer, Joe Stogner, said he couldn’t discuss details about the case Wednesday and will be vigorously defending his client in both the civil and criminal matters.
“We’re going to leave no stone unturned to make sure the defense is fully complete,” Stogner said.
A third suit, filed this week, accuses a female staff member at the boys center of statutory rape and claims that Hanna was negligent in supervising the children in its custody, allowing conditions where such illegal conduct could occur. The former employee, Angelica Malinski, also faces criminal charges.
Chris Jones, chief development officer with Hanna Boys Center, said they are cooperating with law enforcement investigating the alleged abuse and they have taken measures to boost supervision of the children and training about sexual abuse. He said they believe their policies were sufficient but nevertheless have made changes.
“They (the center’s policies) weren’t deficient, but we were looking for ways of strengthening them,” Jones said. “I don’t think you can 100 percent prevent incidents like this from occurring, but you can obviously take steps to improve safety.”
Jones said, as one example of a recent change, they have increased the number of staff members in residential cottages, which typically house a dozen boys, from two adults to three.
“Boys come to us for healing, and when something goes wrong with that — that’s the last thing we want to have happen,” Jones said.
Thorpe had worked for the center for 14 years, and was promoted to clinical director in early 2017. He was arrested June 10 and fired at the end of that month, according to Hanna officials.
The Aug. 18 lawsuit accusing Thorpe of the abuse and the church-based institution of negligence is based on the claims of a young man who came to Hanna Boys Center at age 15 in the summer of 2006. Previously, he was homeless and stole food in order to eat, according to the civil complaint.
The abuse by Thorpe began during the Christmas break in 2006 and continued until he graduated in 2010, according to the suit.