PLAIN — After its executive director was arrested on suspicion of voyeurism, an official with the Tall Timber church camp outside Lake Wenatchee said the camp is taking steps to learn whether the behavior occurred on the campus and to increase prevention measures.
“Even though it wasn’t something that was associated with Tall Timber, we realize the implications of what that means and that causes questions for everyone, which is why we’re taking the investigation seriously,” said the camp’s acting director, Zachary Miller on Friday.
The former executive director, Dave M. Saugen, was arrested Sept. 30 after he allegedly filmed or photographed a girl as she showered and then shoved an adult woman who confronted him, a Chelan County sheriff’s detective wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in Chelan County Superior Court.
The incident did not occur at Tall Timber and the alleged victim was not a camper. Tall Timber is affiliated with the Northwest Coast Presbytery.
Saugen is charged in Superior Court with first-degree voyeurism, a Class C felony and punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, and fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges. He’s being held at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center on a $25,000 bond. Trial is scheduled for Jan. 5.
Tall Timber, open since 1965, is about five miles north of Lake Wenatchee and serves about 4,000 guests a year. Saugen was named executive director in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Miller said Saugen resigned from his position as executive director and agreed to cooperate with authorities and Tall Timber.
“We never suspected it,” Miller said.
Tall Timber commissioned a pair of private investigators to look into the matter and independent of Tall Timber, Miller said. The private investigators began interviews and an examination of the campus shortly after Saugen’s arrest to learn whether similar behavior had occurred at Tall Timber.
He declined to comment on any findings. It’s not clear how long the investigation will last, Miller said, but it could continue for another month or more.
“It’s a very thorough interview,” Miller said. “The most important thing to us is just safety and honesty and we want to make sure the truth comes out.”
He explained Saturday that investigators are targeting those who “would have the most important insight into what happened,” such as employees who worked closely with Saugen during his tenure at Tall Timber, guests who’ve attended the camp in leadership roles and former campers. The investigation is also looking beyond Saugen’s five years as executive director.
As Miller put it: “Anything that’s just going to help us understand what happened over his tenure here.”
They’ll assess camp policies after the investigation.
“For any organization, when you come to a moment like this, we will change things, absolutely, simply because it is a call to just remind you that the safety of people is of the utmost importance and so you can always find ways to improve upon that and make sure that that is a top priority,” Miller said Friday.
This story was updated Saturday with further comments from acting director Zachary Miller regarding the scope of Tall Timber’s investigation.