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May-17-2007 15:08printcomments

Children’s Farm Home Sued for Alleged Child Abuse Acts of Former Executive Director

The offender, now a convict, kept coded markings on all his files of children that he was sexually interested in or involved with.

Old building at the Children's Farm Home in Corvallis, Oregon
Old building at the Children's Farm Home in Corvallis, Oregon

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - A Salem man has filed a $5 million childhood sexual abuse suit in Multnomah County against the Children’s Farm Home and its parent corporation, Trillium Family Services, for abuse he says he suffered as a boy in the years 1977-79 at the hands of William “Hank” Dufort, former Executive Director of the Home.

The man alleges he was abused “countless” times over the three years. The man, now 45-years old, alleges that as a result of the abuse he experienced significant emotional and psychological damage, according to attorney Kelly Clark of Portland, who filed the suit.

“This was a boy already in trouble with life,” said Clark, “from a broken home, with a troubled childhood—in short, exactly the kind of kid the Farm Home was supposed to help. Instead, this happens, and it sends his life further into a tailspin.” Clark, who has represented over 150 adults sexually abused as children, including over 100 victims of Catholic priest abuse, explained this dynamic further. “When you have a boy already starved for attention, as this boy was—no father figure, previous abuse, bounced around in foster care— and someone with the kind of authority and trust that Dufort carried befriends him, shows him affection and attention, it is literally like a sheep being led to the slaughter. Only the slaughter is of the soul, the mind, the emotions. And most boys never fully recover.”

The suit contends that the Farm Home was negligent in failing to remove Dufort after receiving repeated notice that he was dangerous. “The history of Dufort, the number of victims he had, and what the Home knew about him, all lead to the obvious conclusion that the organization failed in its primary mission— which was to keep kids safe,” commented Clark.

The Farm Home abuse pattern often involved boys speaking out and making allegations of abuse to other staff members.

These staff members would follow the Children’s Farm Home internal policy of relaying such allegations to the Director (who ironically was the abuser, Dufort). Dufort kept coded markings on all his files of children residents to denote the children that he was sexually interested in or involved with.

In 1990, Dufort was convicted of 41 counts of sexual abuse including sodomy and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. He had worked at the home for troubled children since the 1960s and admitted to investigators that he had abused other boys during his career there.

At Dufort’s March 2007 parole hearing, after serving 17 years of his 48-year sentence, the judge determined that he is still an extreme danger to the public and must remain in prison until at least September 2009.

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Brandon Rhodes January 21, 2016 3:05 pm (Pacific time)

I was at the farm home in the 90's probably the worst experience I've ever had my life lots of abuse among other things been saying this for years but no one will listen thinks it's all a big joke

lynn Huntly December 31, 2015 1:17 pm (Pacific time)

I was at the children's farm home in73/74 and I always wondered why al the boys always hung around him.looking back now at 56yrs of age it was sooo obvious!!!! Did they just not care!! I don't know where you people were but this was not a bad place. I met a staff member that will always be a part of my heart ❤ she was a great woman and very good at her job.many staff members really cared about us!!I think about alot of the staff that were there,Joan wolf was my favorite but there were many! I thank them all for being there for confused 😖 kids!!

gregory reed September 18, 2011 6:13 am (Pacific time)

i was their in 1968-69 and it was the most asom time of my life thanks to tom guss , he saved my life at a time when i was mostly out of control. thank tom guss your a wonderful person. sorry to hear about the rest. god bless

Hey April 21, 2011 12:58 am (Pacific time)

Hi i was also in the farm home for 11 months in like 2007 to 2008 and they abused me very bad put me on a bunch of pills not even give us enough food to fill us...and ifelt alone but i ran across this story so i thought i would leave you a comment tell you keep your head up

Editor: Thanks for checking in, glad you are doing well, and yes everyone needs to keep their head up, thanks.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.