Lawyers Lay out Cases in Morning Star Trial

By Kevin Graman
January 19, 2010

WASHINGTON -- An attorney for a former resident of Morning Star Boys' Ranch accused the group home for troubled boys of turning a blind eye to longstanding sexual abuse there, while an attorney representing the ranch claimed those making the accusations are motivated by money. Those statements came this morning as both sides in a civil lawsuit presented opening statements in Spokane County Superior Court.

Attorney Tim Kosnoff, who represents plaintiff Kenny Putnam, said Morning Star administrators knew or should have known that abuse was occurring and alleged two of the abusers were ranch directors. He was referring to the Rev. Marvin Lavoy, now deceased, and the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, who Putnam accuses of abusing him while a resident of the ranch in 1988-89.

"Management knew because they were doing it themselves," Kosnoff said.

Defense attorney Jim King, in his opening statement, said Putnam and four other former residents who will testify in the case are making the stories up for financial gain. The four witnesses are among 19 former ranch residents with lawsuits pending against Morning Star. Many of them have histories of crime and substance abuse.

"It's Putnam that brings us here," King said. "He wants money."


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