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‘Mandated reporting’ and the arrest of Dwayne Kilgore

Mandated reporter training

Anyone interested in mandated reporter training can take a free self-paced online course at mandatedreporterca.com. The Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training Project is funded by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP). The goal of this project is to have the free four-hour training available for everyone who works with children. All Sonoma Valley Unified School District teachers and staff were trained in 2015 and 2016 according to SVUSD superintendent Louann Carlomagno.

Nick Egan was relaxing after a workout in the sauna at Healdsburg’s Parkpoint Health Club, when snippets of a conversation taking place in the adjacent hot tub disturbed his thoughts. He began listening carefully, and found himself stepping outside the sauna to hear more clearly over the noise of the spa’s jets.

“It took a while to even process the words,” said Egan. An older man was talking intimately and in some detail with two boys about their private parts, and all three were naked, according to Egan. As he stood behind the older man, Egan thought to himself, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing, but I know it’s not right.”

And on a quiet Saturday in late August of last year, what is alleged to be years of abuse of children came to an end with the launch of a police investigation into longtime Boyes Hot Springs resident Dwayne Kilgore, 68.

Having worked in education for 11 years, and as the current head of the private K-8 Healdsburg School, Egan, 38, takes his role as a “mandated reporter” of child abuse seriously. Every person who has contact with children through their employment is considered a “mandated reporter” and, as such, is legally responsible for reporting suspicions of abuse.

Who are mandated reporters in Sonoma Valley? School and day care staff, clergy, everyone who works at youth-focused nonprofits like the Boys & Girls Clubs or Hanna Boys Center, everyone who coaches a team, health care providers, scout leaders, among others.

Mandated reporters are strongly discouraged from investigating abuse on their own.

According to the U.S. government’s child welfare website, “Fact-finding is the role of child protection investigators and law enforcement who have been trained in how to minimize the trauma that an investigation and interview process may have on a child victim.”

“Reports of suspicions are treated very sensitively by police,” said Sgt. Dave Burgess of the Sonoma County Sexual Assault Unit. “Some people who report to us are sure, and some are just worried. We tread carefully and realize the stakes are very high.”

For the next 10 minutes at the health club, Egan followed Kilgore from the indoor hot tub to outside the shower area to the changing room to observe as much as he could. “I needed to hear more to be sure, to understand the entire picture,” he said. In the police report, he recounts specific actions that made him increasingly uneasy. About 15 minutes after first hearing Kilgore’s voice, Egan walked decisively to the Club’s front desk to report his concern.

Egan said his mind was racing as he drove the short distance to his home. He spoke briefly with his wife, who also works with children, and then phoned the Healdsburg police directly. He was connected with Officer Craig Smith, who now leads the investigation.

In their training, mandated reporters learn that proof is not required, and suspicions should be shared directly with authorities. Even if a strong case cannot be built, the paper trail can make it easier to stop a repeat offender, or to build a solid case in the future. The state Department of Justice now maintains a central repository of information about reported child abuse.

Nick Egan’s accounting to Officer Smith, however, was compelling enough to spur an immediate investigation.

Mandated reporter training

Anyone interested in mandated reporter training can take a free self-paced online course at mandatedreporterca.com. The Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training Project is funded by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP). The goal of this project is to have the free four-hour training available for everyone who works with children. All Sonoma Valley Unified School District teachers and staff were trained in 2015 and 2016 according to SVUSD superintendent Louann Carlomagno.

A search warrant issued for Dwayne Kilgore’s Boyes Hot Springs house, his gold Toyota Corolla and his storage locker on Highway 12 yielded videos, photos and DVDs as well as weekend itineraries, all labeled with boys names, two duffel bags containing 17 pairs of swim trunks and two novels with pedophilic themes, according to the police report.

When asked how he thinks child predators can escape detection for years, and even decades in some instances, Egan said, “If you take a slice in time, and overhear one small thing, maybe that’s not enough to make you act. I think also that sometimes people don’t believe their eyes or what they heard. They think, ‘probably I just misheard that.’ Most abuse happens by people who are close to the victim so people sometimes just can’t believe it could be true. But just because other people trust someone, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust your intuition if something feels wrong.”

Adds Egan: “When I was driving home, I kept thinking about my students. I’m incredibly sad that (alleged suspect Kilgore) was able to get away with this for so long. And I’m happy that hopefully it is over now.”

Since his arrest in September, Kilgore has been charged with nine felony counts of sexual abuse and committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. According to police documents, he had a long history of taking Sonoma Valley boys on outings to local pools, and the lewd acts occurred during overnight trips.

Kilgore resigned three years ago from his job as athletic director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, according to Club president Robert Hughes. In the police report, Kilgore told investigators that he resigned because of a new policy that would have prevented staff from seeing youth members away from the Club.

On Oct. 31, Kilgore entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charges against him. He faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of all, according to assistant district attorney Javier Vaca. He is currently being held in Sonoma County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

Kilgore is due back in court Jan. 30 for a prelimary hearing on the charges.

We will continue to report on this story as more news becomes available. Contact Lorna Sheridan at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.