King County board member shouts she's 'glad' to support sex offender nominated to homelessness board

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority has asked a Continuum of Care Board member to resign after she shouted at another board member for raising concerns about hiring a convicted sex offender.

Tensions got heated when member Kristina Sawyckyj raised concerns about a convicted sex offender being nominated for the board during their virtual meeting on May 3.

The spout started about an hour into the meeting; the archived video now warning viewers saying "emotionally intense discussion of sexual violence and inappropriate behavior, watch with care."

Sawyckyj objected to 38-year-old Thomas Whitaker’s appointment as she openly shared instances of inappropriate behavior.

"We have a code of ethics on this board, Thomas Whitaker - Raven Crowfoot is a sex offender. Repeat sex offender, and I have had a bad experience with him," Sawyckyj said.

Immediately she was shut down by Cochair Shanee Colston who said: "That's just not ok at all, and I won't stand for that as co-chair. We're not here to discuss people's backgrounds, and actually I'm glad that if that's the case, that he's here because sex offenders are another population that is most vulnerable that don't have housing."

Sawyckyj added: "he has touched me, so if there’s a meeting where he is at I will not be there."

Another member who says she’s had nothing but good experiences with Whitaker suggests she go to police to which Sawyckyj says "I have."

The overlapping of shouts continues as Sawyckvj leaves the meeting. Colston's furry escalating demanding her to "Stop!"

"If anyone wants to talk like that, you will be muted and in removed from this meeting, board member or public or not." Colston shouted. "This is about equity - everyone deserves housing. I don't care if they're a sex offender, I don't care if they're black, if they're indigenous, if they're a criminal, I don't care if they're coming out of jail, prison - everyone deserves housing."

Following the outburst, KCRHA Chief Program Officer Peter Lynn asked co-chair Colston to resign, saying her behavior was unacceptable. 

As of Thursday evening, KCRHA said Colston was refusing to step down.

Boardmember Leeze Castro entered the meeting chat saying: "There is a difference between people deserving housing, and whether it's appropriate to appoint somebody to an advocacy position if they've sexually assaulted somebody, especially another person in this space. I don't stand for that."

Thomas Whitaker is a level-two sex offender, according to registration details. Criminal history records show he was convicted of harboring a minor in 2010.

Law enforcement sources say Whitaker was charged with rape of a child in 2011 but pleaded guilty a year later to communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, a felony sex crime. Their reports say Whitaker, then 26-years-old, admitted to detectives he had sex three times with a 15-year-old girl he was "dating."  

In 2018, he was also arrested for criminal trespass - that case has been dismissed.   

FOX 13 reached out to KCRHA regarding his nomination, and they sent us this statement:

We followed up with KCRHA inquiring if Whitaker has been removed as a nominee or if he’ll be confirmed at the next meeting but have not yet been given a direct answer.

The CoC board was scheduled to meet May 5 to confirm new board members, but that’s been rescheduled due to the tensions. Their website says their next meeting is set for June 7.