The Kenwood Press
News: 01/15/2018

Hanna Boys Center license at risk

Jay Gamel

Allegations of sexual abuse of the kids it houses continue to dog the iconic Hanna Boys Center, situated in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) wants to revoke the center’s license for failing to provide a safe harbor for its wards.

The CDSS Community Care Licensing Division filed a motion in December for an administrative review to revoke the Hanna Center’s license. The motion also seeks the lifelong exclusion of former Hanna program director Kevin Scott Thorpe from ever working in a state-licensed facility again. Thorpe is facing charges of molesting seven children over his 14-year career at Hanna.

Three former employees have come under scrutiny since 2014, when current administrator Brian Farrager replaced the Rev. John Crews. Crews resigned following an allegation of sexual misconduct with a boy in the 1970s, before he worked for Hanna.

A recent civil suit alleged that Hanna counselor Angelica Malinski engaged in sex with a 17-year-old minor. Malinski was terminated last October after several incidents pointed to inappropriate behavior with the minor involved.

Thorpe is in Sonoma County Jail charged with 15 counts of sexual abuse. His bail has been set at $1.5 million.

Three civil lawsuits for sex abuse have been filed in the past year, two involving Thorpe and one involving Malinski.

Farrager released a statement on Jan. 8 concerning the license challenge.

“We have had two very serious disclosures of sexual abuse in the last year and Licensing understandably is deeply troubled and concerned by these events,” Farrager wrote. “Please know we are troubled and concerned as well. We have cooperated with Licensing and law enforcement throughout this process and will continue to do so. Over the last six months, the Hanna Boys Center has taken significant steps to improve resident safety and prevent a recurrence of these types of issues, including engaging an outside firm to conduct a thorough risk assessment, fully revamping our policies and practices regarding off-campus transports, installing GPS on all of our agency vehicles, retraining all of our staff and young people on identifying the warning signs of sexual abuse, reviewing and revising all our policies and procedures and re-organizing our staffing structure to improve resident-staff ratios.”

Hanna has filed a Notice of Defense which will ensure a hearing and prevent the license revocation from becoming automatic, according to CDSS spokesman Michael Weston.

Farrager wrote, “We are saddened and regretful that any young people have been hurt in our care and we are doing everything we can to ensure it never happens again.

“We believe our mission is a crucial one and our young people and their families depend on our services.

“We remain hopeful this important mission will endure for decades to come.”

The next step is setting a hearing. “The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings,” Weston explained. “Currently, no hearing date has been set.”

Hanna Boys Center began in 1945 in a Menlo Park cottage, moving its 25 charges to the former Morris Ranch on Arnold Drive in 1948. It was named for Edward Joseph Hanna (1860-1944), the third archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Hanna Boys Center operates under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa. As of press time, the Diocese had not responded to inquiries.