Detention center chief is focus of police inquiry
[Grants Pass, OR]

February 2, 2001 Friday Sunrise Edition
Copyright 2001 The Oregonian
The Oregonian
February 2, 2001 Friday Sunrise Edition

(GRANTS PASS, Ore) -- The superintendent of a Southern Oregon juvenile detention center is under investigation for allegedly mistreating children.

Two employees at the facility have been indicted on charges of assault and tampering with public records in an apparently unrelated case.

Donald E. Gray, 55, the top administrator at the Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Grants Pass, remains employed with the Oregon Youth Authority, the agency that oversees youth corrections, pending completion of an Oregon State Police investigation into the allegations, said Karen Andall, youth authority spokeswoman.

"I don't want to say physically where he's working," Andall said, "but he's definitely still employed as a superintendent with OYA."

Lt. Gregg Hastings, a state police spokesman, declined to comment on the investigation, which began in January.

Gray was hired as superintendent in 1997. Before that, he was executive director of Coalition For Kids, a social service agency in Grants Pass, and worked in child and family services in Florida.

Rogue Valley's 100-bed facility for boys is among the system's most secure.

In an apparently separate case, two group life coordinators at Rogue Valley were indicted Jan. 10 on charges stemming from an assault on an inmate. Group life coordinators oversee the daily inmate activities and movements.

William S. Newell, 45, was indicted on misdemeanor charges of assault, harassment, tampering with public records and official misconduct. Newell was hired in 1997 from the Oregon Military Department, where he was a military security officer, Andall said. He worked part time with the Klamath County juvenile detention system from 1989 to 1997. He has been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 7.

Jeremy T. Taylor, 29, was indicted on a charge of tampering with public records. He was hired in 1998. He has been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 10.

The charges against Newell and Taylor relate to an Oct. 26 incident involving an inmate and subsequent reports written about it, said Josephine County District Attorney Clay Johnson. Both are scheduled to appear in Josephine County Circuit Court Monday.

The indictments do not appear to have any connection to the Gray investigation, said Karen Brazeau, youth authority director. Staff writer Michael Wilson contributed to this story.

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