SEATTLE (TND) — A Seattle official who went into a fit of rage during a recent board meeting and defended a convicted pedophile's nomination for a board seat is refusing to resign despite the program's chief officer asking her to do so.
A meeting of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) Continuum of Care (CoC) Advisory Committee in Washington state became very heated when one particular board member exploded over an objection to approving a prospective seat nomination for a convicted pedophile.
Shanee Colston, the committee's co-chair, was presiding over a May 3 meeting on Zoom where the group was approving prospective board members. 38-year-old Thomas Whitaker-Raven Crowfoot, who was convicted of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in 2012, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office, was floated as a candidate.
Crowfoot was also charged with raping a minor in 2010, according to Publicola, and was also convicted of harboring a minor, who was a 13-year-old that he reportedly had sexual relations with.
Fellow board member Kristina Sawyckyj, who shared in a 2016 interview that she was a Navy veteran and a survivor of a rape that occurred while serving, objected to Crowfoot's nomination and revealed that she had a "bad experience" with him specifically in the past.
We have a code of ethics on this board and Thomas Whitaker-Raven Crowfoot is a sex offender... repeat sex offender... and I have had bad experience with him," Sawyckyj can be heard saying in the meeting.
Almost immediately, Colston exploded and began defending Crowfoot while lambasting Sawyckyj.
We can’t disclose people’s personal business here... right? Although that’s public disclosure, we have no right to out anybody in this space,” Colston raised her voice to say. “That’s just not OK, at all. I won’t stand for that as a co-chair. We’re not here to discover people’s backgrounds.
And I’m actually glad that is the case that he’s here because sex offenders are another population that is most vulnerable that don’t have housing," Colston added, "People do change."
Sawyckyj pushed back herself, alleging that Whitaker at one point "touched" her. She warned that she would not be able to attend any meetings where he would be present.
As the heated exchange between Sawyckyj and Colston continued, other board members interjected. One told Sawyckyj to "take this [her allegations] to the police" as the meeting she was in was "not the forum" to do so. Colston even threatened to mute Sawyckyj over her words.
As the co-chair, I’m telling you that you cannot talk like that in this meeting. I will not have that here," Colston warned. "If anyone wants to talk like that you will be muted and removed from this board meeting."
The KCRHA meeting "is about equity," Colston added before declaring with emphasis that "everyone deserves housing."
I don’t care if they’re a sex offender. I don’t care if they’re black. I don’t care if they’re indigenous. I don’t care if they’re a criminal. I don’t care if they’re coming out of jail or prison," Colston said before again repeating that "everyone deserves housing."
When we talk about a Code of Ethics at the CoC Board, we will be respectful of all people," Colston added.
Following the heated exchange at the meeting and Colston's eruption at Sawyckyj, KCRHA Chief Program Officer Peter Lynn asked Colston to resign, according to Publicola.
The National Desk has reached out to KCRHA to independently confirm if Colston was asked to resign and to see if she has agreed to comply. A spokesperson for KCRHA says that "Ms. Colston has refused to resign."
KCRHA shares the concerns of our community about the nomination of a registered sex offender for the Continuum of Care Board, and does not support that nomination," the spokesperson told TND.
We agree that the behavior by the current Board Co-Chair in shouting down the board member who identified that the nominee is a registered sex offender was unacceptable, and we immediately asked the Co-Chair to resign," the spokesperson continued. "The KCRHA is continuing actions to ensure safety for the board, staff, and members of the public."
The KCRHA is "designed to unify and coordinate policy, funding, and services for people experiencing homelessness across all of King County," according to its LinkedIn page.