Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


November 13, 1996 - OLYMPIA - State Attorney General Christine Gregoire plans to appeal Wednesday's Thurston County Superior Court ruling which rejects a major part of the state's case against three O.K. Boys Ranch administrators charged with multiple counts of second-degree criminal mistreatment of children.  

Judge Daniel Berschauer ruled that post-traumatic stress disorder does not constitute bodily injury under the criminal mistreatment statute. If upheld by the appellate court, the ruling means the three defendants cannot be prosecuted under existing law.  

"I think the average person would conclude that the system has failed if alleged conduct as egregious as this can't be prosecuted," said Gregoire.  

Many of the former ranch residents have been diagnosed with post-trau matic stress disorder as a result of abusive treatment and sexual assaults which occurred at the OK Boys Ranch. In its case, state attorneys argued that to not consider PTSD as bodily injury would be like claiming the brain is not part of the body. The state also contends the disorder was the result of the failure of the defendants to prevent the abuse of the children at the north Olympia group home.  

"We intend to appeal and ask for an expedited direct review by the State Supreme Court," said Gregoire. "This issue has never been decided by our appellate courts and is important enough to merit resolution by our state's highest court."  

"If the kind of conduct alleged in the OK Boys Ranch case is not criminal, then the statute is defective and we need to change the law," said Gregoire. "I will, therefore, work closely with the Legislature on this matter if the Supreme Court upholds the Thurston County Superior Court decision."