"Real messed up": Former Warnock camper details abuse, neglect

Democrats in Georgia have eight days left to regret their lack of vetting that produced runoff Senate nominee Raphael Warnock. When challenged earlier on his arrest in a Maryland child-abuse case, Warnock insisted that he had only intervened in the police investigation to protect the rights of his camp’s employees and attendees.

Now, however, former camper Anthony Washington tells the Washington Free Beacon about the abuse and neglect at Camp Farthest Out that led to a financial settlement with his family — including having urine thrown at him and being locked out of the cabin overnight:

Washington said the camp was his first extended trip away from his parents as a child, and his first time in such a rural environment. His mother sent the two children because they had recently moved from California to Baltimore and she hoped they would make friends in the area, according to Washington.

Counselors were young, in their late teens or early 20s, and showed little interest in taking care of the campers, Washington said. As a punishment for wetting his bed, he said a counselor forced him to spend the next night sleeping outside by himself on the basketball court.

“I’m like, ‘Hell no I’m not, it’s cold out there,’” he said. “[The counselors] wouldn’t let me in the house, not at all. … Shut the door to the cabin, locked it,” he said. “It was dark. There wasn’t nothing out there but the basketball court. I ain’t never experienced nothing like that. Like, you’re not in a tent, you’re not in nothing. You’re just out, God knows where.”

Counselors also threw urine on him from a bucket they used when there wasn’t a bathroom nearby, he added.

“I went through that experience myself. I don’t even like talking about this shit. That shit happened. … It was like in a bucket. They would keep that shit in a bucket,” he said.

WFB reporter Alana Goodman got corroborating information from Washington’s sister Dominique (who also attended the camp that same time), another source linked to the family, as well as court records of the lawsuit brought by Washington’s mother against Camp Farthest Out. No one would speak on the record about the nature of the 2005 settlement, but it was apparently substantial. Washington told Goodman that he could only speak to his own abuse, but added that he saw counselors “grab kids” at times.

Moreover, the neglect also appears in government records. Goodman links to a 2002 inspection report from the Maryland Department of Health that notes a long list of violations at the camp. It notes that “staff are not supervising campers,” which inspectors saw for themselves and got confirmation from “medical staff & pool staff” that this is “routine among the counselors.” The camp had failed to get a permit from the state fire marshal — a failure that would have closed down any other business — nor approvals for its plumbing and electrical systems.

The inspection report prompted a November 2002 demand from the then-acting chief of the Department of Health’s division of community services for an “informal conference” to discuss the “repeat” and “numerous” violations. That notice got cc’d to the “Reverend Mark Andre Wainwright” and “Reverend Raphael Gamaliel Warnock,” the two ministers who got arrested for obstruction when police attempted to interview counselors and campers three months earlier. It appears that police responded immediately after the July 31, 2002 inspection report, which is when Warnock and Wainwright allegedly interfered with police questioning:

The ministers interrupted a police interview of a counselor Wednesday in a room at the camp and, after investigators moved the interview to a nearby picnic area, interfered again and subsequently tried to prevent a camper from directing police to another potential witness, according to charging documents.

“I’ve never encountered resistance like that at all,” said Trooper Diane Barry of the state police Child and Sexual Assault Unit in Westminster. Barry said the counselors consented to the interviews after being told they were free to go at any time and were not obligated to answer her questions.

When this first came to light, Warnock claimed he was only concerned about protecting the rights of the campers and counselors. This looks much more like Warnock’s concern was for his own potential legal issues, perhaps especially given the abuse allegations from Washington family. Just how aware was Warnock of those abusive practices, anyway?

Democrats didn’t put much effort into vetting Warnock’s past. As for Warnock’s future, Anthony Washington has this advice for Georgia voters:

Washington expressed surprise when he was told Warnock is currently running for U.S. Senate in Georgia. “I don’t think nobody like [Warnock] should be running for damn Senate nowhere, running a camp like that,” he told the Free Beacon. “He should not be running for government.”

Maybe Democrats can at some point answer why Warnock got in position to compete for the seat in the first place.

Georgia Democrats shouldn’t take all of the blame over this lack of vetting. When will the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finally start digging into Warnock? Over/under: nine days, and take the over.