Ex-Crittenton Worker Faces Pair of Counts
Former Crittenton Services employee Cheryl Ripley is charged with purchasing tobacco products for juvenile residents of its behavioral health facility.
Two girls staying at the home also told law enforcement that in addition to supplying tobacco to underage residents, Ripley helped a girl run away from the facility and encouraged another to level false allegations of sexual misconduct against a high-ranking male administrator.
Ohio County Magistrate Harry Radcliffe arraigned Ripley, 50, of Wheeling Wednesday on two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She was released on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond.
A pre-trial hearing had not been scheduled as of Thursday, and court records indicated Ripley had not yet hired an attorney.
The Ohio County Sheriff’s Department began investigating the allegations against Ripley in early July, by which time she was no longer a Crittenton Services employee. She reportedly denied ever supplying the girls with tobacco to sheriff’s Lt. Nelson Croft, and said she would stop communicating with the juveniles.
However, earlier this month Croft obtained records of an online conversation with one of the girls during which Ripley “wanted to find out who snitched on her for bringing tobacco,” court documents state. Ripley reportedly created a Facebook account under the name “Molly Sue Smith” so she could communicate furtively with the girls.
One of the teens said Ripley routinely provided the girls with cigarettes and snuff while employed with Crittenton.
A second girl told Croft Ripley “routinely let the girls smoke in an restroom upstairs at the facility and would turn the fire alarm off and then spray room deodorizer to cover the smell of smoke … and would let the girls smoke on van rides,”
After her employment with Crittenton Services ended, Ripley allegedly hid tobacco products inside a tissue box in a restroom at the Vineyard Church and told the girls where to find them. The teens cited specific brands they said Ripley would purchase and deliver.
One of them told investigators she believed Ripley took the risk because she “felt bad for the girls and knew what they were going through.”
Ripley allegedly called one of the girls while she was visiting her grandmother in Williamson, W.Va., telling the girl she “wanted to get even with the snitches” and asking her to accuse one of Crittenton’s male administrators of attempting to have sex with her. The teen reportedly was incensed at Ripley’s suggestion she lie and never made any allegation against the man.
That girl also told Croft Ripley helped another juvenile run away from the facility, and provided that girl money and food before she absconded from the residence. According to Croft’s report, that girl is still listed as missing in the National Crime Information Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation-run central database for tracking missing persons.
Crittenton Director of Marketing Stacy Rich declined to disclose Ripley’s dates of employment or her job responsibilities. She also did not say whether she was aware that West Virginia State Police arrested Ripley in 2009 for shoplifting $115 worth of merchandise from Walmart, a charge that was dismissed after she completed an alternative sentencing program.
Rich also would not comment on the reportedly missing girl, but said Crittenton is cooperating with the investigation.