Lewis County (WA) Sheriff’s Employees Demonstrate Systemic Failure to Protect

This content was shared by via CopBlock.org/Submit. It details a situation of a woman initially charged for defending herself, who was time and again, given the run-around by those who claimed to protect her. Indeed, despite rationalizations and assurances given, police have no duty to protect individuals.


This is a long and complicated story which continues to this day. The information below is housed on the website http://theawarenesschanger.yolasite.com/barbies-story.php

September 9, 2013, Barbara Panco, of Packwood, WA, was arrested for defending herself against a stalker whom she alleged had drugged, tortured and raped her months earlier. The man, Richard Armstrong at 240lbs, accosted her, at 100lbs, in the driveway of her home. He was not living there at the time and had been told months before to stay away. After telling him several times to leave, he became aggressive so, she knocked him down. He finally left. Shortly afterwards, she was arrested for assault by Lewis County Sheriffs Deputy Bob Nelson. The charges were dropped on November 13, 2013, in the “interest of justice”, upon review of the evidence shared with the Prosecutors office.

When Ms Panco and Mr. Armstrong had a shared living arrangement earlier in 2013, the Sheriffs, Deputy Sue Shannon and Deputy Kevin Anderson, were called to investigate an assault on her. They referred her to Freedom Encounters which teaches how to exorcise demons. During that time with Mr. Armstrong, Ms. Panco suffered cuts, bruises and burns. According to Mr Armstrong, these injuries were caused by demons.

Since that time, she repeatedly sought help from law enforcement. After the charges were dropped, her defense attorney, Christine Newbry, advised her to have an outside agency investigate her claims. She was introduced to Detective Douglas Lee with the city of Centralia, WA, on November 27, 2013. Ms. Panco was interviewed by Det. Lee with her Attorney and her Personal Representative, Rev. Robin Hylton, for three hours. The officer informed her on December 20, 2013 that his commander was unwilling to pursue the matter and was turning the evidence over to the Sheriff’s department.

After several phone calls with the Sheriff’s department, Ms. Panco was interviewed by Deputy Brian Lauer on January 20, 2014 with her Personal Representative. After the two hour interview, she declined to meet with the Deputy again alleging the interview was “more like an interrogation” and seemed to focus mostly on when she had contact with the Sheriff’s department and very little on the allegations of rape and torture. Again, there were more phone calls with the Sheriffs Department.

On February 26, 2014, Ms Panco and her PR, Rev. Hylton, met with Chief Criminal Deputy, Gene Seiber, in front of the Packwood Sheriffs Sub Station. Chief Seiber stated that the reason he wanted to talk to us was because of rumors of the “Sheriffs violating the law” and wanted to assure Ms. Panco that he was there to help. Chief Seiber was asked if he was aware of Deputy Andersons referral to Freedom Encounters. He stated that it was not against the law what the Deputy did. Ms. Panco and Rev, Hylton told Chief Seiber of their experience with law enforcement. They stated the terms for the next interview to include Rev. Hyltons presence during the interview, with Deputy Lauer, as well as making their own recording of the process. Chief Seiber agreed to Ms. Panco’s terms. He ask that their Victims Advocate, Toni Nelson, be present as well; to which Ms. Panco agreed.

Ms. Panco and Rev. Hylton met with Deputy Brian Lauer  along with Toni Nelson on March 5, 2014. Deputy Lauer refused to allow Ms. Panco her Personal Representative attend or record the interview. Rev. Hylton began to video record what happened next. There were no lights on the steps leading to the entrance of the Packwood Sheriffs Sub Station. This is the recording.

From the video description:

This was supposed to be an interview with Lewis County Sheriff Deputy Brian Lauer. He refused to do the interview with the assault victim on the grounds that he didn’t want her Personal Representative present. A violation of RCW 70.125.060. Although this is a video there was no light at the entrance of the Sheriff Sub Station; odd in itself. Also present are Barbara Panco, victim; Robin Hylton, PR; Toni Nelson, Advocate. For more background on this see: http://theawarenesschanger.yolasite.com/

Two professional Advocacy groups in Lewis county, WA were contacted; Human Response Network in Chehalis, WA and Community Action Counsel in Centralia. HRN offered to listen and share information while CAC representative, Steve Briggs made one missed call and did not return any more calls.

Ms. Panco made countless inquiries for help. She eventually found out she could take her request for charges against Mr. Armstrong to the Prosecutor, Jonathon Meyer.  Ms. Panco then wrote her own statement yet, still couldn’t get the Prosecutor to listen. After several phone calls with various government entities, Senator John Braun’s office called the Prosecutor and a meeting was arranged.

Ms Panco and Rev. Hylton met with the Prosecutor, Jonathon Meyer, and his assistant on June 25, 2014.  She gave him her statement and formally asked to have charges filed. He said he would look into it. The Prosecutor asked Barbara to get an Order of Protection which she finally managed the following day.

On July 7, 2014, at the Order of Protection hearing , Mr Armstrong, (after retaining the services of attorney Wade Samuelson), asked for a continuance based on the fact that the order was a day late being served. It is important to note that Deputy Bob Nelson lives in the same vicinity as Mr Armstrong yet was unable to make timely service. Mr Armstrong was given six weeks to prepare for the next hearing.

On July 28, 2014 Mr Armstrong violated the Order of Protection at Blanton’s Market, Packwood, WA. For more information click here.

On August 16, 2014, Ms Panco received Mr Armstrong’s response. In his response was a narrative from Deputy Lauer regarding an interview with Ms Panco and Rev. Hylton on January 20, 2014 . This narrative was given the Incident Report number 13C2626. This Incident Report is in regard to a Sheriffs contact on March 12, 2013; almost a year and a half earlier. The narrative was written on July 16, 2014; nine days after Mr Armstrong retained Wade Samuelson and four months after the contact. The report was given to Mr Samuelson on July 17, 2014. It is important to note that the contact with Deputy Lauer on March 5, 2014, was not included in the supplemental narrative.

Ms Panco and Rev. Hylton met with Toni Nelson at the Lewis County Court House at 8:30am August 18, 2014 prior to the 9:30am Protection Order hearing. Rev. Hylton discussed with Ms Panco the possible need for a continuance in order to compile all the necessary documentation to counter Mr Armstrongs response. Ms Nelson assured Ms Panco that she had enough evidence to obtain a permanent Order. Ms Panco decided to plead her case. Commissioner Tracy Mitchell denied Ms Panco her right to her Personal Representative to be with her and denied the Order.

Ms Panco, again requested all Sheriffs Reports involving her. The Incident Report 13C2626 Supplemental Narrative of Deputy Lauer dated August 16, 2014 was not included.

On August 29, 2014, Ms Panco filed a Pro Se Motion for Revision of Cause Number 14-2-00713-1. The hearing is set for September 12, 2014.

This story is being shared in hopes that someone will help Barbara in her quest for accountability.

You can help by sharing her story and signing her petition for accountability.

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