The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office took extra care before arresting Pastor Adair Krack last week on suspicion of child molestation, making sure 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 unawares.
Sheriff Rick Scott is furious. With that much warning, Krack could have destroyed evidence, could have resisted arrest and risked officer safety, could have threatened or done harm to the alleged victims or fled altogether, said Scott.
What Brown did was at least improper and maybe criminal, said the sheriff, who is so concerned that he’s asked the FBI to look into it, possibly as a violation of the victims’ civil rights.
Brown is the county’s elected clerk, in charge of record keeping for the courts and has served several terms. She says 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, has been charged with first degree and second degree child molestation. The alleged victims are two sisters from a family Krack has known since he was a pastor in Oregon several years ago. A 12-year-old told authorities about inappropriate touching and said it had been going on for several years. A 20-year-old now living in another state was interviewed and said she was also a victim as a young child. Krack lives in Elma.
Sheriff 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 last Tuesday 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 is 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.”
She reiterated that the documents were public once they were filed and said, “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.”
She was shocked by the arrest warrant and disbelieving that her pastor could have done what he is accused of, Brown said. “I’m not going to say I regret anything,” she said. “I’m saying I told the investigators that when they told me their side, I said I can reflect on that and I understand where they are coming from … but 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, but “overriding that is what you can do and what you should do are two different things.
“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.”
What effect might it have on the case, Svoboda was asked? “ If he had time to think about it before (detectives) ask to talk to him … it’s hard to say what the impact is,” Svoboda said. “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.