Former Green Hill School Employee Sentenced in Relation to Sexual Misconduct at Chehalis Facility

Emily Fitzgerald, The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash.
·4 min read

Apr. 7—A former Green Hill School employee has been sentenced on charges stemming from a sexually-explicit phone conversation she had with an inmate in July 2017.

Having pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, Samantha N. Washington, 31, of Lacey, was sentenced to 30 days of incarceration, with credit for 30 days served via electronic home monitoring, and 12 months of community custody. She was additionally required to pay $600 in court fees and complete a psychosexual evaluation.

Washington was initially charged with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct in June 2018 after the Washington State Patrol received a referral regarding possible sexual misconduct at Green Hill School, a medium-to-maximum security facility in Chehalis that provides older males sentenced to juvenile rehabilitation treatment with education and vocational training.

When first questioned by investigators about the sexual encounter described in the phone conversation, Washington reportedly claimed that the conversation was "fantasy," according to the affidavit of probable cause, but was unable to provide further explanation when questioned further.

In total, 11 different trial dates were scheduled and stricken between October 2018 and November 2020. On Nov. 16, the day before her last scheduled trial date, Washington entered a guilty plea to the amended charges in order to take advantage of a plea agreement.

"My client committed the crime," said Washington's attorney, Richard Woodrow; but he added that the victim, who was 20 years old at the time of the incident, had indicated in written statements to both Woodrow and Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer "that he didn't feel like he was a victim in this case and he would do everything he could not to testify."

Washington additionally "assisted law enforcement" regarding "other incidents" at Green Hill School, Woodrow said.

Washington was the third former Green Hill employee charged for sexual misconduct at the facility between January 2016 and June 2018.

Erin Stiebritz, also known as Erin Snodgrass, 40, of Centralia, pleaded guilty to one count of first degree custodial misconduct in July 2016 and was sentenced to 14 days in jail and 46 days in counseling, The Chronicle reported at the time. She was later required to register as a sex offender due to the conviction, and she was charged in March 2018 for allegedly failing to do so.

Katherine Kimbrel, 43, of Centralia, initially pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree custodial misconduct in January 2018, but in November 2019, while waiting for a jury trial, Kimbrel accepted a plea deal for lesser charges and was sentenced to six months in jail and 12 months in community custody, along with a $600 fine.

"We hold our staff to the highest standards and have zero tolerance for sexual abuse," said a spokesperson for the Washington state Department of Children, Youth and Families, which manages Green Hill School. "Anytime these allegations are brought to our attention, we take them very seriously, work with our local law enforcement and cooperate fully."

Washington, Stiebritz and Kimbrel are among the few perpetrators who have faced criminal repercussions for the sexual abuse at Green Hill School — but former residents have claimed that many Green Hill staff members, medical staff, visiting teachers and even other residents have contributed to ongoing sexual abuse of Green Hill inmates.

Twelve of these former residents are named as plaintiffs in ongoing civil lawsuits against the state of Washington and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) over allegations of sexual abuse at Green Hill School between 1976 and 2008.

"Ultimately, all of the claims are different because the sex abuse affected each of the residents differently ... so each one is really particularized to how the sexual abuse impacted their lives going forward," said attorney Darrel Cochran, who is representing the plaintiffs alongside fellow attorney Kevin Hastings. Both Cochran and Hastings are partners at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala.

The civil cases, initially filed with five plaintiffs in September 2009, argue that the state of Washington and the DSHS were negligent in their supervision of employees and protection of children in their care.

While only 12 residents are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuits, Cochran states that he has found records of approximately 70 residents who have experienced sexual abuse at Green Hill.

Setting a trial date has proven difficult due to COVID-19-related delays, said Cochran, "but hopefully we establish the evidence and the state of Washington will do what's right and get these claims resolved sooner rather than later."

The Department of Children, Youth and Families declined to comment on the pending litigation, but stated that current staff members receive ongoing training related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act and that youths are informed of their rights regarding sexual safety and are provided "safe reporting channels and protection from any retaliation."

"Our juvenile rehabilitation staff care for the state's highest-risk youth, and they play a critical role in our commitment to the standards outlined in the Prison Rape Elimination Act," said a spokesperson.