Abuse Lawsuit Filed against Spokane Boys Ranch
Another Lawsuit Has Been Filed against the Morning Star Boys' Ranch by a Man Who Contends He Was Physically, Sexually and Psychologically Abused during the Two Years He Lived at the Home for Troubled Boys

Seattle Times
July 30, 2008

SPOKANE, Wash. — Another lawsuit has been filed against the Morning Star Boys' Ranch by a man who contends he was physically, sexually and psychologically abused during the two years he lived at the home for troubled boys.

Joseph S. Matherly, 57, contends he was sodomized by ranch employees in the mid-1960s.

Matherly lived at the ranch for 18 months, when he was 14 and 15 years old, according to the lawsuit filed in Spokane County Superior Court last week.

That brings to 19 the number of people who allegedly suffered some form of abuse at the ranch and have made court filings since August 2005.

Jenn Kantz, spokeswoman for the nonprofit facility, said that for more than 50 years Morning Star has provided "a safe place for adolescent boys to go and seek care and instruction."

The allegations, she added, "go against the very core of what Morning Star was founded on."

The ranch has served more than 1,300 boys with behavioral problems, including many who had been involved with the state's juvenile justice or child welfare systems.

Matherly said in the lawsuit that he did not remember having been subjected to the abuse until he was contacted by a news reporter in 2005, prior to the publication of a lengthy article about the ranch.

"After that conversation specific recollections of various sexual abuses, threats and violence in conjunction with sexual abuse flooded back to plaintiff's conscious mind," the lawsuit said.

Prior to those conversations, Matherly had "completely suppressed his memories of his abuse at MSBR," the lawsuit said.

Matherly's lawsuit accuses a deceased former staff member of sodomizing him and several other boys with long-stemmed flowers and a jar of Vaseline when they were sick with the measles.

The lawsuit also accused former Morning Star administrator the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner of physical, but not sexual, abuse. It said the priest shattered "a heavy, institutional dining plate" over Matherly's head "when he could not eat his vegetables."

Matherly is seeking unspecified damages, according to the suit.


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