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1935: SPOKANE'S OLDEST ORPHANAGE IS A HOTBED FOR MOLESTATION

by

Carl Maxey
  • Carl Maxey

The trouble began when a few teenage girls ran away from the Spokane Children's Home. Picked up by a police officer, the girls begged and pleaded not to go back. Eventually they admitted that they didn't feel safe. The home's superintendent, Fred Hunter, was not only physically abusive to many of the children, he was having "improper relations" with some of the boys.

This led to an investigation of the children's home, and damning evidence that led to the arrest of Hunter, as well as his assistant, Fred Schueler.

The public was so outraged that the case quickly went to court, and each man, who tearfully confessed his crimes of raping boys, received 10 years in prison.

One year later, the orphanage wanted to make the public forget the scandal. Under new management, their solution was simple: the Spokane Children's Home board (made up mostly of Ladies Benevolent Society members) unanimously voted to remove the African American and Native American children housed at the facility, even though they had nothing to do with the molestation case.

At the time, there was no public outrage. No one seemed to mind. It was only two orphans who were affected, after all.

One of those kids, Carl Maxey, was just 11 years old at the time. Maxey, described in his New York Times obituary as "a scrappy civil rights lawyer credited with virtually singlehandedly desegregating much of the inland Northwest," cited that terrible time in his life as giving him the fire to succeed.

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