The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office took extra care before arresting Pastor Adair Krack on Sept. 15 on suspicion of child molestation, ensuring the Prosecutor’s Office agreed there was probable cause to arrest, and securing a warrant from a judge.
But before detectives could arrest him, Grays Harbor County Clerk Cheryl Brown, a parishioner at Krack’s First Baptist Church in Hoquiam, “gave information out” that apparently led to Krack being tipped off, and spoiled the Sheriff’s Office’s chances of arresting him unaware.
Sheriff Rick Scott is furious. With that much warning, Scott said, Krack could have destroyed evidence, resisted arrest and risked officer safety, threatened or done harm to the alleged victims, or fled altogether.
The sheriff contends what Brown did was at least improper and maybe criminal, and he’s asked the FBI to look into it, possibly as a violation of the victims’ civil rights.
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As the county’s elected clerk, Brown is in charge of record keeping for the courts. She said too much is being made of what she did and said the information was public as soon as the warrant was filed with her office.
“I became a public person, after the fact, and gave information out about a warrant,” she said.
Krack, 67, of Elma, has been charged with first- and second-degree child molestation. The alleged victims are two sisters from a family Krack has known since he was an assistant pastor in Oregon several years ago. Krack had befriended the family, often babysitting the oldest daughter while the single mother worked, authorities say.
A 12-year-old told authorities about inappropriate touching while at his home on West Lilly Road this past summer and said it had been going on for several years. A 20-year-old now living in another state was interviewed and said she also was a victim as a young child.
Krack was arrested by sheriff’s detectives and booked into the Grays Harbor County Jail. He was released after posting bond. Each allegation came with a $50,000 bail amount, according to the sheriff’s department.
Investigators from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon provided information last month to local law enforcement regarding a possible child molestation case at a residence on West Lilly Road in Elma.
Krack moved to Washington in 2002 and the Oregon family remained close to him afterward. In 2010, the family started sending the three younger daughters to Krack’s Vacation Bible School in Washington. The girl and her two younger sisters, ages 7 and 9, attended a weeklong vacation Bible school at the church this summer and were staying with Krack at his home.
The two younger sisters were interviewed by investigators and made no disclosures to investigators.
Scott said his office realized Krack had been tipped off because while they were still waiting to be notified that the warrant was ready, the Prosecutor’s Office received a call from an attorney saying he was arranging for another attorney to represent Krack and asked what Krack should do. The attorney was told that Krack should surrender.
Krack did not surrender immediately and the next day detectives were still looking for him when they saw his vehicle outside attorney Kurt Janhunen’s Aberdeen office and arrested him as he left.
Scott said he believes that until Krack was tipped off, he didn’t know there was an investigation.
Brown wouldn’t tell The Daily World exactly what her involvement was, but admitted she “gave information out.”
“… I never spoke to Adair or his wife. I never had any contact with them. I never called anybody. I made no phone calls,” she said. Later, she admitted, “I just called an elder of the church. I never spoke to any of Adair’s family.
“I’m just going to tell you … like I told (sheriff’s investigators), I believed he would do the honorable thing. I believe him to be an honorable man so he would do the honorable thing.”
Brown said she was shocked by the arrest warrant and disbelieving that her pastor could have done what he is accused of. “From my side, that’s not where my pastor’s at, that’s not my pastor.”
Scott said he thinks Brown is guilty of official misconduct.
“She used her position to provide support to an accused child molester and also has put into question the integrity of her office and the trust and faith that the courts and law enforcement have in the filing of sensitive information. I don’t know who her friends are … what else is going to come across her desk about a potential court order or search warrant” that could be compromised, he said.
Prosecutor Katie Svoboda said, “We’re still looking at what, if any, criminal liability might come out of it, but it doesn’t seem, on the surface, that that is where we are going to end up. It was public information.”
But she echoed Scott: “My concern is on the flip side. There are things you can do and things you should do. This, in my book, doesn’t fall under things that should have been done.”
“This is a case where the clerk was proactively giving information to a defendant in a felony sex offense and it’s not within the scope of her duties. It’s not something she would do normally.”
Svoboda said it’s hard to know what effect her actions might have on the case.
“We don’t know what we lost. By tipping off someone who has an arrest warrant, it creates such an officer safety situation. It also puts the victims at risk. Hypothetically, a suspect could say, ‘I don’t have anything else to live for, I’m going to take the victims with me,’ or if he had just fled. There are so many things that could have gone wrong. I’m shocked by it.”
Svoboda said it potentially puts police and prosecutors in a “terrible position” having to decide whether they have confidence in the Clerk’s Office. It could mean increased incidences of asking judges to seal search warrants and other investigatory documents, she said.