Date: 1989-02-28

Author: Arthur C. Gorlick P-I Reporter

A judge in Olympia yesterday issued a temporary order preventing the state from interfering with operations of a Port Angeles adoption agency licensed to the wife of an attorney charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.

But the judge also ordered that the attorney not have any contact with children being processed by the adoption agency and that he not play any role in the agency's operations.

Judge Richard Strophy of Thurston County Superior Court issued the temporary injunction against the state's Department of Social and Health Services.

The department earlier this month suspended the license of Adoption Advocates International.

It is licensed to Merrily Ripley, wife of Port Angeles attorney Theadore E. ''Ted'' Ripley, who was listed as the adoption agency's president and registered agent on its last annual report to the secretary of state's office.

Ted Ripley was charged with second-degree statutory rape by Prosecuting Attorney David H. Bruneau of Clallam County.

Ripley, who is free on personal recognizance, is accused of sexully molesting a blind, 12-year-old Guatemalan girl living in his home. He has insisted that he is innocent.

Strophy issued the injunction at the request of Olympia attorney Jerry Buzzard, who represents Merrily Ripley and the adoption agency. Strophy said summary suspension of the license was done without due process of law.

He said the state department failed to give adequate notice of its action, failed to hold a hearing to determine facts in the case before acting and failed to recognize Ted Ripley's presumption of innocence before his trial.

Frank Mendizabal, DSHS spokesman, said Assistant Attorney General Richard McCarten, who represented the department at the court hearing, said the judge set the following conditions on continued operation of the adoption agency:

Ted Ripley have no direct contact with children being processed through the adoption agency and have no involvement in its business process.

Merrily Ripley's involvement with the adoption agency's operation be limited to the paper work for processing prospective adoptions.

A third party be named to oversee operations.

The agency move ahead with the adoptions of an estimated 100 children currently ''in the pipeline.''

''We characterize it as a victory for us,'' Mendizabal said.

The adoption agency specializes in bringing children from other countries to the United States for placement. It operates from a building behind the Ripley family home.

Ted and Merrily Ripley have received national recognition for adopting 18 children, most of them from Asia or Central America, while raising three of their biological children and at least one foster child.

Buzzard said Strophy's temporary injunction would remain in effect until after a hearing is held.

Buzzard said he would subpoena the girl who told authorities that Ted Ripley and others in the Ripley home had abused her.

One of the Ripleys' adopted sons was tried in juvenile court of taking indecent liberties with the girl and has been freed after serving six months in a juvenile detention facility.

Another adopted son, Kori Ripley, 30 ((age)), a former Clallam County reserve sheriff's deputy, is charged with taking indecent liberties with the girl and is scheduled to stand trial April 17.

Retired Judge Hardyn Soule of Pierce County Superior Court and the State Court of Appeals, has agreed to serve as a temporary judge in the trial of Ted Ripley, which is to begin April 3.

Both Ted Ripley and Kori Ripley have entered pleas of not guilty in their cases.


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