Judge drops charge against former state director who pleaded guilty to child assault 

A Marion County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a criminal charge against the former executive director of the state Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission who pleaded guilty last year to assaulting a boy in a Salem after-school program.

Reginald Richardson, 63, entered the plea in October 2022 for grabbing the 8-year-old boy by the back of his neck and shoving him into a wall for repeatedly being disruptive in class. He had since been on diversion probation, meaning the charge would be dropped if he followed certain conditions.

Richardson had left Oregon and moved to Chicago by the time he pleaded guilty, court records show. 

Judge Tracy Prall terminated his diversion six weeks early on Aug. 28 after he completed all requirements, according to Scott Healy, a Clackamas County deputy district attorney.

Healy said in an email that such early termination is not unusual “if a defendant has done what the court has ordered him to do.”

“Mr. Richardson accepted responsibility last fall when he pleaded guilty,” his attorney, Walter Todd, said in an email. “He then completed all terms of the diversion very early on. In recognition of that, the diversion was dismissed early.”

Richardson declined to comment. 

Then-Gov. Kate Brown fired Richardson from his state post in December 2022 nearly two months after his guilty plea, according to a letter provided to Salem Reporter. The firing came more than a week after the news organization first asked the governor’s office about his employment status in light of the assault.

Brown appointed Richardson as the commission’s executive director in 2018. He was paid $186,996 in that role in 2021, according to an Oregonian/OregonLive database of state employee salaries

The assault occurred Jan. 26 at the Career Technical Education Center in northeast Salem during an after-school program run by Richardson’s company, Community Learning Institute. The program was focused on combating pandemic learning loss for Black students in the Salem-Keizer School District.

Richardson went to observe the class after the program director, who ran operations day-to-day, told him a boy in the group had been acting up. Richardson worked with the boy, prosecutors told Salem Reporter, then took him out into a hallway after he disrupted class.

A surveillance camera showed Richardson grabbing the boy by the back of his neck and pushing him into a wall. The boy had no visible injuries but reported feeling sore and reported the assault several days later to a counselor, who told the state Department of Human Services, according to Healy.

Salem-Keizer School District leaders banned Richardson from its schools and property as a result, terminated his company’s contract to run the after school program and removed him from a list of approved district volunteers.

The Salem Police Department asked the state Department of Justice to investigate the incident as an outside agency due to Richardson’s positions at the state and Salem-Keizer NAACP, according to Salem police spokeswoman Angela Hedrick. Chief Trevor Womack and Richardson had worked together on local criminal justice reforms.

A Marion County grand jury in May 2022 indicted Richardson on charges of fourth-degree assault and harassment, both misdemeanors. 

Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson said she asked the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute Richardson because she worked with him on the policy commission as well as on criminal cases when he was deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services. 

Richardson pleaded guilty five months later to the assault charge, and the harassment charge was dropped as part of the plea deal.

Court documents at the time of the plea said he was living in Chicago, where he resided before moving to Oregon in 2015 to become deputy director at the state Department of Human Services.

Richardson was ordered to pay $1,000 to the victim’s family, attend at least 12 counseling sessions “focusing on anger management issues and alternative options for addressing challenging behavior from children,” and have no contact with the victim or his brother, who was also in the after-school program.

He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service at a DePaul University program in Chicago, which helps prepare graduate students for advanced social work employment.

Court records show Richardson completed his counseling sessions and community service by December 2022.

He is now the mental health division director for Envision Unlimited, a Chicago nonprofit serving people with disabilities through day programs, community living, employment services, foster care and mental health treatment, according to its website.


Oregon drug policy director pleads guilty to assaulting boy in Salem school program

Gov. Brown fires state director who pleaded guilty to child assault

Officials dodge questions over handling of state official’s assault conviction

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.