By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The state agency that oversees Green Hill School issued a statement yesterday in response to the arrest of one of its counselors who is accused of having a sexual relationship with a juvenile resident, calling such behavior inexcusable.
Thirty-six-year-old Erin L. Snodgrass, who also goes by Erin Stiebritz, was charged this week with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct.
She was arrested on Monday at the juvenile incarceration facility in south Chehalis. Snodgrass has worked there since June 2013.
“We are disturbed by the actions of this individual and have done everything we can to hold her fully accountable,” Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration Assistant Secretary John Clayton stated in the press release.
Green Hill is run by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, which is section of the Department of Social and Health Services. It’s a medium to maximum security fenced campus that provides older, male offenders education and vocational training.
According to authorities, staff members reported the alleged inappropriate behavior that triggered the investigation.
Snodgrass was immediately placed on an alternative assignment and was not allowed to have any contact with juveniles while the investigation was ongoing, according to DSHS.
She’s now on unpaid leave and not allowed back at work while the administrative process is wrapping up, according to DSHS spokesperson Chris Wright.
Wright indicated Snodgrass has not had any other disciplinary problems.
Charging documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court state that in February of last year, employees at Green Hill intercepted a letter suspected to be from Snodgrass to the student-inmate, detailing a sexual relationship.
A detective with the Washington State Patrol over the next few months gathered evidence, concluding just before Christmas when the alleged victim said in an interview the two had had sex a few times in her office at Green Hill.
The activities are alleged to have taken place between June 1 and November 12, 2014. The alleged victim turned 18 in July 2014, according to Lewis County prosecutors.
Snodgrass, described in the charging papers as a resident counselor, was placed on the alternative assignment on Nov. 22, 2014.
Clayton in the press release describes a zero tolerance policy for such behavior.
The agency is committed to the standards set forth in the Prison Rape Elimination Act, also known as PREA, he said. The federal law prohibits misconduct and harassment at correctional facilities.
“As new knowledge and research about ensuring appropriate boundaries and behavior in institutions becomes available, we train and share that information with staff,” he stated. “We also educate our youth about how to spot and report misconduct.”
First-degree custodial sexual misconduct is a class C felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Snodgrass denies the allegations.
A Lewis County Superior Court judge on Tuesday allowed her to be released from jail with a $25,000 unsecured bond.
For background, read “Counselor-inmate sex alleged at Green Hill School” from Tuesday January 12, 2016, here