2006 Jul 15: Host-mother gets away with theft and inappropriate behavior

Neither PAX nor the US State Department took responsibility for their failure in taking care of , from Ghana.

The Reporter

By Julie Kay//Staff Writer | Posted: 11/06/06, 12:01 AM PST

The 30-year-old Vacaville woman investigated on suspicion of stealing money from and behaving inappropriately with an exchange student she hosted last fall will not be charged with any crime, according to the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.

… the New York-based PAX will likely avoid penalty. … The young man spent last year as a student at Vacaville High School. He excelled in his classes and played on the school’s soccer team.

His first few weeks were tough. PAX originally placed the then-17-year-old in a Trower neighborhood home Rotary Club members describe as “dilapidated.” Within weeks, the young man told a teammate and a school counselor that his host mother there had stolen his money.

In October, the young man moved to the home of Michelle Dickey, who had volunteered to take him in. The Rotary Club also “adopted” him, taking him sightseeing and providing him a monthly stipend. … Dickey discovered inappropriate e-mails on her computer from the first host mother to the young man. She confronted the student, who … agreed to go to police to report the alleged theft and inappropriate behavior … officers videotaped interviews with the young man, Dickey, and the first host mother, obtained copies of bank records, and confiscated the original host mother’s computer for evidence. Officers made multiple unsuccessful attempts to locate the host mother again, they said. They eventually handed the case over to the district attorney for further investigation. Last month, district attorney officials said they had closed the case, lacking sufficient evidence to prosecute it. …

PAX President Libby Cryer … admitted this week she knew about the e-mails to the young man from the first host mother, but defended her decision not to report them to the State Department, despite federal law which requires the reporting of questionable behavior on the part of host family members.

“PAX staff, both the community representative and senior staff in the national office, spoke personally with [the exchange student] to confirm that he did not wish to pursue this matter,” she replied in an e-mail to Reporter staff last week.

… The law states clearly that all inappropriate behavior on the part of any host family member must be reported to the State Department, regardless of whether the student asks for it to be reported or not.

Read the entire article at The Reporter

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