Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Bill Jordan served as WWPS superintendent from July 2014 to when he retired in June 2016.
Years before Carl Robanske’s alleged sexual misconduct against Jamaican orphans came to light, the College Place man lost his Washington teaching license because of inappropriate sexual messages he sent to a Walla Walla middle school student.
However, it appears he never faced any criminal investigation stemming from that incident.
Officials of the Walla Walla and College Place police departments both told the Union-Bulletin they don’t have any record of the incident being reported to them by school officials.
The Walla Walla incident
According to documents from Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the 2014 incident involved sexual communications between Robanske and a Garrison Middle School student over Facebook.
According to the OSPI report, the communication was "inappropriate and full of sexual innuendo, including an inappropriate photo of a male with a Pinocchio tattoo over his groin area."
Though no evidence of a criminal investigation exists, the OSPI did its own investigation and determined the incident occurred, and Robanske’s license was suspended in 2016.
Walla Walla Public Schools has since had a change of administrations, when Superintendent Wade Smith took over for Bill Jordan, who served from July 2014 to when he retired in June 2016.
Current WWPS staff have no record of the incident being referred to police.
However, WWPS Director of Human Resources Mindy Meyer told the Union-Bulletin in an email that, “Administration at that time confirmed that police were made aware of the situation.”
She said she did not know which police department was contacted.
Walla Walla Police Department spokesperson Nick Loudermilk said he was unable to find any evidence that the WWPD investigated Robanske's case.
“I just looked through our records management system with the records supervisor. We could not find any reports made to the WWPD describing this situation and/or Carl’s name,” Loudermilk wrote in an email.
College Place Police Department spokesperson Dylan Schmick had a similar response.
“I spoke with our records clerk supervisor, and she was unable to locate a jacket (a file) on Mr. Robanske,” Schmick said. “Based on that finding, I do not believe anything was ever reported to us.”
If it happened now
Current administrators at WWPS said the case would be referred to police if it occurred now.
WWPS Assistant Superintendent Chris Gardea said allegations against teachers and staff are reviewed for internal discipline. If the allegations include anything that could be a crime, or including anything sexually inappropriate, then law enforcement is notified in addition to the internal investigation.
The district would also contact the OSPI’s Office of Professional Practices, Gardea said.
He said district staff did contact the OSPI at the time, which led to the investigation resulting in Robanske’s license being suspended.
According to OSPI documents, WWPS put Robanske on paid leave pending the internal investigation on June 2, 2014. On June 16, Robanske resigned. The OSPI investigation ensued and his license was suspended on Dec. 6, 2016.
Though his suspension was for two years, Robanske cannot be reinstated until he successfully completes a psychological evaluation that determines it’s safe for him to have unsupervised access to minors in a school setting, among other conditions.
The OSPI confirmed that Robanske never applied to have his license reinstated.
Attempts to reach Robanske for comment were unsuccessful.
Robanske founded Embracing Orphans, based in Walla Walla, in 2009. Though barred from teaching, Robanske continued his involvement with the organization.
Among other things, the religious-based nonprofit owned at one time and helped operate The Father’s House, a transitional home for girls and young women in Jamaica where they live while they leave government care.
A lengthy Jamaican government report that accused Robanske of inappropriate sexual encounters with some of those female orphans was made public in late December.
According to the report, while The Father’s House accommodates many young women 18 and older, it also provided a home to at least 10 girls younger than 18, including one as young as 15, while Robanske was involved and had access to the house.
The Jamaica Observer reported that Rosalee Gage-Grey, the CEO of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, was fired in February.
The government report contained evidence Gage-Grey knew by 2018 about Robanske’s 2014 Walla Walla incident but continued working with him and allowing him to help run The Father’s House.
The report was given to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the national police force of Jamaica. Attempts by the Union-Bulletin to contact the Jamaica Constabulary Force regarding possible charges against Robanske have been unsuccessful.
In February, three Jamaican civil rights groups — Jamaicans for Justice, Eve for Life and Stand Up for Jamaica — issued a joint statement calling for transparency in the search for Gage-Grey’s replacement and called for Jamacia’s Ministry of Education and Youth to "lead on a comprehensive review of the Childcare and Protection Act to consider amendments that ensure greater protection of our most vulnerable children."
The statement also asks what is being done to support the victims listed in the report.
The nonprofit status
When news of the Jamaican government report broke, most of Embracing Orphans’ board of directors resigned.
Julie Woods did not. She told the Union-Bulletin in January there was work to be done to shut down the nonprofit. She also said the organization still had funds that needed to be allocated.
Now, Woods said that process is still underway, and the nonprofit will be closed this year.
"Embracing Orphans is not currently accepting donations and we do not have plans to renew our charitable status when it expires later this year," she said. "We are continuing to support the work of our missionaries in Jamaica with the remaining balance of our funds, as well as missions, organizations and projects in Kenya and India."