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DCYF LICENSOR LAUREL HIGHTOWER’S CRIMINAL MISCONDUCT
April 2023 update: Multiple attorneys have confirmed that qualified immunity allows state employees to commit misdemeanors and felonies against residents, including children, without consequences or accountability.
Qualified immunity allowed Laurel Hightower to:
• Fabricate evidence
• Tamper with evidence (falsifying evidence after the fact)
• Obstruct justice
• Commit perjury in and out of court
• Slander of an innocent resident
• Reveal sensitive and protected information about an at-risk child to a non-relative
Only a pathological liar would behave as Laurel Hightower did against applicant Kasey if retaliation wasn’t her motive. Only her friends, family, and future employers could hold her accountable for her criminal misconduct. Exposure is the best weapon the public has to fight such corruption.
Laurel Hightower was a licensor for the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. She’s also a liar and fraud who cannot tell the truth, even when placed under oath.
In 2020, Washington state resident “Kasey” applied to DCYF to become a licensed foster parent. He wanted to adopt legally-free tweens and teens in long-term foster care, including LGBTQ+ and disabled youth. But a licensing supervisor coerced him to apply for a fostering license instead. After telling Kasey twice that she would pass his home study, Hightower failed his application, portraying him as a bigot and racist. Hightower said she knew she would fail his application early in the process despite performing no verifiable work. She also swore that she interviewed Kasey “multiple times” and that he repeatedly insulted minorities and transgender people during a three-hour Zoom video interview and a one-hour Zoom home inspection a month later.
The following evidence proves she made everything up to viciously slander and defame Kasey when failing his home study. Only retaliation can explain her actions.
During a two-day appeal hearing before an administrative court in January 2022, Hightower fabricated evidence and falsely testified, relentlessly slandering Kasey on both days. Even though Kasey submitted nearly two dozen exhibits proving Hightower’s deceit and that she couldn’t keep her stories straight, an administrative law judge ruled in DCYF’s favor. The court also ruled that it didn’t need to address Kasey’s allegations that Hightower fabricated evidence and committed perjury, despite both being the basis for DCYF failing his home study in the first place.
While Judge Eliza Jane Manoff’s administrative court disregarded the proof of Hightower’s prolific fraud and misconduct, prosecutors often build criminal cases around such evidence. This report is unique not just in the volume of evidence of misconduct but also in its directness and timeline.
This report includes the following:
Screenshots from interrogatories confirmed with affidavits.
Media clips and quotes from testimony.
Indisputable evidence proving Hightower committed perjury and fabricated evidence to deceive her employer, the attorney general’s office, and an administrative court.
As the only person who testified truthfully, Kasey’s testimony and exhibits match a well-established timeline of events.
The public can verify this evidence by visiting the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings portal and searching for Docket #134684. You will need to create a username and password to access the site. Still, most exhibits, two days’ testimonies, and official documents are available for review.
Some evidence presented in this report was located after the hearing and served to directly refute Hightower’s lies and fraud.
# # #
Table of Contents
The Fabricated Interview.
Perjury and Email Evidence of Deceit.
False Testimony, Pathological Lies, and Depraved Behavior.
Evidentiary Conclusion: Retaliation Explains Everything.
THE FABRICATED INTERVIEW
Fabrication of evidence: False evidence, fabricated evidence, forged evidence, fake evidence, or tainted evidence is information created or obtained illegally to sway the verdict in a court case. Fabrication is a gross misdemeanor in Washington state and is a federal civil rights violation when used during testimony.
The most damaging pieces of evidence against Hightower are the easiest to prove. Hightower told her supervisor that she interviewed Kasey multiple times and that Kasey said his home “wouldn’t be a good fit for a non-white or trans child.” DCYF used Hightower’s statements as its legal basis for failing his home study.
When Hightower testified, she swore to the court that she scheduled and conducted an uninterrupted three-hour Zoom video interview in Kasey’s home on May 14, 2020, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Hightower swore that she discussed Kasey’s entire application with him during the interview. (Side note: Kasey’s application was 51 pages and over 14,000 words, including 18 pages of personal information with 84 complex parenting and family history questions.) She swore Kasey made racist and bigoted remarks and that he disparaged people of color and transgender people throughout the conversation. Three weeks later, on June 4, 2020, Hightower passed Kasey’s interview and scheduled a home inspection.
Kasey swore his only interview was a phone discussion that lasted 26 minutes, and Hightower didn’t ask him a single question. After casual chit-chat, she said, “Tell me about yourself.” The call covered 13 informal topics, and he mainly spoke uninterrupted for over 20 minutes. Kasey offered to produce bank statements to verify his income, which Hightower declined, saying his income wasn’t a concern of hers. (She later added a factual basis for failing his application by only $547 after swearing she couldn’t verify Kasey’s income.) Hightower thanked him for his time and ended the call.
The evidence proves Hightower fabricated the entire interview, falsely swore on interrogatories and falsely testified.
For starters, Hightower scheduled a 30-minute Zoom interview, not a three-hour interview:
Also, a three-hour Zoom interview wouldn’t have worked for Hightower’s schedule that day. When she emailed Kasey the day before, she offered him appointment times of 10 am or 2 pm because she had just scheduled another Zoom meeting at Noon on May 14.
Kasey testified that Hightower was late calling on May 14 and couldn’t get the video to work. She called back using Zoom at least once and possibly twice but said she was unfamiliar with the app, so she didn’t know why the video wouldn’t work. Hightower said she could conduct a phone interview instead. Since they didn’t know if it was a Zoom technical issue or a problem with her phone, Kasey called her at 11:09 am, and the interview lasted for 26 minutes and 11 seconds.
Kasey’s call detail records support his version of events.
Had Hightower been privy to Kasey’s calendar on May 14, 2020, she might have manufactured a different story for DCYF and the court because Kasey had other appointments that day.
Gmail automatically integrates an appointment invitation with a user’s other calendar appointments. On the right side of the screenshot, Kasey intended to withdraw $500 from an ATM at Sound Credit Union at Noon, followed by grocery shopping at Tacoma Boys. Since his interview ended at 11:35 am, Kasey was free to get on with his day.
According to Kasey’s GPS, he (and his roommate) left his house at 12:05 pm to run errands that matched that day’s calendar appointments.
At 12:22 pm, Kasey withdrew $500 from Sound Credit Union’s ATM.
Below is Kasey’s ATM receipt proving he was more than five miles from his home when Hightower swore she interviewed him in his home.
After driving around Puyallup for a while (Kasey was teaching his roommate how to drive), they grocery-shopped at Tacoma Boys. Kasey remembers that day well, as he bought their favorite foods to celebrate a fantastic interview experience.
Note the address, date, and transaction amount.
Kasey’s banking activity matched his calendar appointments on May 14, 2020. Below is a screenshot of his May 2020 bank statement showing the $500 withdrawal, followed by a transaction of $47.83 at the address for Tacoma Boys in Puyallup.
THE EVIDENCE PROVES KASEY WASN’T HOME WHEN HIGHTOWER SWORE HE MADE APPLICATION-FAILING STATEMENTS DURING A ZOOM INTERVIEW THAT NEVER HAPPENED.
Hightower slandered Kasey’s name and reputation to the state when failing his home study. Only someone seething with rage would behave as corruptly as Laurel Hightower, and only retaliation explains the motive for her sudden reversal and criminal misconduct.
Revenge (retaliation): Inflicting pain to retaliate for real or perceived wrongs. Retaliation is a gross misdemeanor in Washington state.
Notably, when Hightower called him on July 31 to say she was failing his home study, Kasey didn’t recognize the voice and documented that he didn’t know who had called him. Kasey said the voice was filled with hostility. He could tell that person took great pleasure in his anguish when delivering some of the worst news he would ever hear. Hightower’s retaliation was profoundly evil, as Kasey’s application said he was sterile from a genetic defect. Adoption was the only chance he would ever have to start a family.
Kasey had the foresight to submit his phone’s call detail records as an exhibit before the hearing began. But he had no way of knowing how Hightower would lie when testifying. He didn’t have time to locate his GPS records and receipts before the hearing ended.
Kasey still claimed that some of Hightower’s testimony couldn’t have happened and did his best to convince the court of Hightower’s deception. He argued what every person who uses or has ever used a current-generation smartphone knows or has experienced.
An incoming call forcibly interrupts whatever application you’re using and demands you accept or reject the call. It takes skilled technical proficiency to override that smartphone user interface. It means the Zoom app would have paused for the duration of the phone call. Such evidence alone proves Hightower lied about Kasey’s interview.
Below is a media file of Kasey arguing that point, with the court sustaining the state’s objection to Kasey’s argument. (Tellingly, Hightower said it’s not uncommon to conduct a portion of an interview over the phone when having technical difficulties. But she previously testified she used Zoom for the entire interview. So her moment of panic was indicative that she realized Kasey’s evidence proved she was lying. But fortunately for Hightower, the court intervened, and she didn’t need to explain her inconsistent testimony.)
This link from the Association for Computer Machinery conference confirms Kasey’s argument was correct. “Current-generation smartphones still use abrupt full-screen notifications to alert users to incoming calls, demanding a decision to either accept or decline the call. These full-screen notifications forcibly interrupt whatever activity the user was already engaged in.”
Also, when you query, “Will a phone call interrupt a Zoom meeting?” using Google, you should see this result:
Yet Hightower swore the interview that failed Kasey’s application was done with Zoom, lasted three hours, was continuous, and she didn’t recall any interruptions or pauses.
PERJURY AND EMAIL EVIDENCE OF DECEIT
Perjury: Perjury is more than just lying on official documents. It happens when you provide false testimony in or out of court and lie in affidavits and any other official written declaration under oath. Such information must be material or essential in a way that may affect the outcome of a proceeding. Perjury is a class B felony in Washington state. It’s also a federal civil rights violation when used during testimony.
Kasey sent Hightower interrogatory questions before the January 2022 hearing. He designed his questions to provoke deceitful responses because he knew she was lying. Below is Hightower’s name, signature, and date on her affidavit.
Kasey began his interrogatories by asking Hightower if she called him between March 4, 2020, and July 30, 2020. Hightower swore she did. Kasey asked her to produce records proving she called him, the length of the call(s), and what they discussed. But Hightower replied that such a record wasn’t in the department’s possession.
The record of such a call would have been on Hightower’s phone under her call detail records. Or she could have contacted her phone carrier for the same information. But Hightower couldn’t find what didn’t exist and lied about making phone calls that Kasey’s evidence proves never happened.
The state’s decision to fail Kasey’s home study relied on Hightower’s glaring lie of “discussions” with him. Specifically, she interviewed him multiple times. Knowing Hightower had deceived her supervisor about conducting multiple interviews, Kasey asked her to put her lies in writing.
Sure enough, Hightower swore she discussed his entire application during his interview and home inspection. Kasey’s application was more than half the size of his first published book. It is a documented fact that Hightower spoke to Kasey for only 56 total minutes in the 5 1/2 months his application was active. Yet she swore she discussed Kasey’s entire application with him twice while also interviewing him and inspecting his house.
During the hearing, Laurel Hightower’s supervisor, Ann Christiansen, testified that Kasey’s application was among the largest the department had ever received. As the evidence in this report proves, there wasn’t enough time to discuss an application the size of Kasey’s in only 56 minutes. Hightower clearly fabricated everything to deceive her employer and the court.
Kasey also asked Hightower to swear that she used Zoom for his interview, and she falsely swore that she did.
Kasey asked Hightower to produce records showing the duration of the Zoom calls. Hightower replied that such a record is not in the department’s possession. Naturally, she lied about that, too.
DCYF uses a licensed Zoom account. A user or administrator could easily access its call history. Hightower’s Zoom records will show two or three short calls to Kasey on May 14, 2020, and a 30-minute call on June 11, 2020. They would still exist for a prosecutor to review, as Zoom maintains such records indefinitely.
Zoom publishes the steps a user would take to retrieve the length of a call on their support page. It’s under “viewing call history and recordings.” Zoom says, “If you have Zoom Phone activated on your account, you can use the Zoom client to view your call history, including missed and answered incoming and outgoing calls.”
Hightower used her smartphone when she attempted to call Kasey using Zoom on May 14, 2020. So she had Zoom Phone activated on her account. But Hightower couldn’t get the Zoom video to work on May 14. That’s why Kasey called her on his phone for his 26-minute interview. Hightower couldn’t find what she knew didn’t exist and committed perjury when answering her interrogatories.
Another piece of evidence against Hightower was her email to Kasey on July 14, 2020. She told him that she would approve his home study soon. Kasey asked her about it, and Hightower’s interrogatory shows she also lied about that email. Hightower swore she never informed Kasey that she or anyone else was preparing to pass his home study.
Below is the email Hightower sent Kasey on July 14, 2020, that she expected to approve his home study by the end of the month.
Notice how Hightower began her email reply. She started with a defensive remark about only working four days a week due to furloughs. But Kasey didn’t ask her why she was taking so long to respond to his email; he only asked for an update. Such a defensive comment would indicate Hightower received a manager’s demotion, reprimand, or negative comment due to poor communication or job performance before responding to Kasey’s email. Prosecutors usually refer to that as having a motive or showing intent before committing obvious crimes.
July 14, 2020, wasn’t the only time Hightower told Kasey she would pass his home study. She told him the same thing toward the end of his 30-minute home inspection on June 11, and Kasey has that evidence.
Right before the inspection ended, Kasey asked about the status of his home study. Hightower said, “You’re ready to go, but I need a supervisor to sign off on it.” She estimated he would receive his license by the end of June or the first part of July.
Kasey reiterated that information to Codie Veitenheimer, a manager in the licensing division, when he wrote to her on July 9 suggesting Hightower communicated poorly. His July 9 email to Veitenheimer predated Hightower’s email to him by five days. Unless Kasey’s a psychic, Hightower told Kasey she would pass his home study during his June inspection.
Veitenheimer responded to Kasey that he could reach out to her or someone else for an update if Hightower failed to reply. Veitenheimer also mentioned how Hightower was trying to manage her caseload. Such wording indicates that her coworkers knew Hightower was struggling and having difficulty performing her work competently. Hightower passed Kasey’s home study in mid-June. But he still hadn’t received his license a month later, meaning Hightower was significantly behind with her work.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Kasey’s email to Veitenheimer was escalated and Hightower given a reprimand, which she blamed on Kasey. While that’s only a guess, it matches the timeline perfectly for retaliation.
Kasey was elated after the June 11 inspection. He contacted his best friends and said he could begin the adoption process in July. Hightower passed his home inspection a few days later, on June 15.
Believing he would receive his license soon, Kasey emailed Northwest Adoption Exchange on June 16. He asked when he could inquire about legally-free children living in long-term foster care in Washington. Based on Hightower’s assurances about passing his home study — “You’re ready to go, but I need a supervisor to sign off on it” — Kasey told NWAE he had passed it. Kasey only wrote to NWAE because Hightower assured him she would pass his home study. Thea, an NWAE employee, emailed him back that day with congratulations and the information he sought.
Kasey kept Hightower in the information loop. He sent her an email on June 18 about writing to NWAE and asked if he could inquire about adopting a child then or if he should wait until he’s licensed. Hightower replied he should wait until he received his license before inquiring.
If Hightower intended to fail Kasey’s application early in the licensing process, as she testified, she would have said something to Kasey or urged caution. No mentally stable person would deceive an applicant into believing everything was fine with his application if she intended to fail it. That’s especially true after learning he contacted an adoption agency to inquire about a waiting child. (Sadly, as of early 2023, the child Kasey wished to inquire about is still waiting for adoption. He’s 17, will age out of the foster care system, and potentially face homelessness before summer begins.)
Monday, July 20, 2020, is when Hightower’s criminal misconduct began. Having received a likely reprimand the previous week, she had several days to contemplate her retaliatory actions over the weekend. But Hightower didn’t know enough about Kasey or his application because she still hadn’t glanced at it by July 20 and couldn’t locate it among her files. Below is her email to Kasey and his response; she asked for a copy of his personal information that day.
As Kasey testified, he thought Hightower’s request for information already in her possession was unusual. That’s why he included two crucial points that would show an impartial court that Hightower still hadn’t read his personal information by July 20.
First, Kasey explained why he created his document instead of using the official form. Form 15-276 provided only a few lines for an applicant to write what Kasey thought should require paragraphs. So he copied and pasted questions from Form 15-276 into a document that allowed him to explain answers to complicated questions. Kasey needed to mention that to Hightower because she’d never discussed his personal information with him.
Second, Kasey stated the only information that had changed since February 7, 2020, was that one of his cats died in March. That was information Kasey would have discussed during his May interview had Hightower asked him questions about that document. Kasey also thought Hightower had contacted his Caregiver Core Training coach to update his application. That’s because his coach said she would tell Hightower about his progress “when contacted” on February 28, 2020. Kasey assumed Hightower would perform her job instead of lying about it.
Despite the state bearing the burden of proof, Hightower couldn’t produce a shred of evidence to prove her version of events. Her inconsistent testimony would have been laughable in a legitimate courtroom. Kasey’s documentation establishes that Hightower intended to pass his home study until something triggered her into failing it.
Besides the screenshot above, Hightower’s interrogatory responses verified she asked Kasey to send her his personal information on July 20. Even though Hightower had Form 15-276 in her email inbox, she was too incompetent to locate it. During the hearing, Kasey asked why she requested a form already in her possession that day. Hightower answered that she couldn’t recall.
But over the next several hours, Hightower cherry-picked and misrepresented everything Kasey admitted not knowing or understanding about parenting, culture, race, and gender identity. She then put her devious plan into action by calling her supervisor to report something troubling about an applicant.
Christiansen testified that she’s never had a licensor raise so many serious concerns about an applicant so late in the licensing process. What’s notable is that supervisors meet with licensors once a month. They discuss case files, applicants, progress reports, and any concerns. Christiansen testified she met with Hightower on May 20 and around June 20. Hightower never mentioned Kasey to her supervisor.
What discredits DCYF’s entire decision is everything that caused the department to fail Kasey’s application occurred before Hightower’s June 20 meeting with Christiansen. Yet Hightower said nothing to anyone. She never documented anything about Kasey, his interview, home inspection, or application while it was active.
The first time Christiansen heard Kasey’s name was on the afternoon of July 20. That’s when Hightower called her. She began fabricating conversations and misrepresenting Kasey’s application to portray him in the worst possible manner. DCYF failed Kasey’s application because of it.
If that’s not retaliation, nothing is.
FALSE TESTIMONY, PATHOLOGICAL LIES, AND DEPRAVED BEHAVIOR
The worst part of a state employee fabricating evidence and falsely testifying is sitting quietly while that person slanders and defames your reputation publicly. Kasey’s appeal was a public hearing conducted on January 7 and 27, 2022.
When Hightower testified on January 7, she unleashed an avalanche of lies, proving her corrupt intent. Hightower invented elaborate stories and explanations for events she swore she couldn’t remember only eighteen days earlier in her interrogatories. She had no way of recalling them, either.
(A side note about Hightower’s recollection: Hightower admitted she didn’t document anything while Kasey’s application was active. But she and her supervisors justified her lack of documentation by swearing that DCYF, a government agency, keeps no written documentation for any applicant. No notes, memos, reports, emails, or paperwork of any type. DCYF’s witnesses testified that licensors deliver oral reports to supervisors, despite handling up to 30 case files simultaneously. If that were true, there’s no credible way Hightower could have changed her testimony from her interrogatory version unless someone supplied her with information or helped write her testimony between December 21, 2021, and January 7, 2022. The assistant attorney general was the most likely culprit. Kaelen Brodie also fabricated evidence, committed perjury, and intentionally misrepresented Kasey’s testimony and application to deceive the court. The documentation proving Kaelen Brodie’s misconduct as a public official and unethical behavior worthy of disbarment is in a separate report on this website.)
Some media clips in this section have been edited for briefness. Still, all are available for verification on the court’s portal. They reflect accurate testimony proving perjury and criminal misconduct.
Among Hightower’s false testimony:
Hightower scheduled and conducted a three-hour Zoom video interview for May 14, 2020, from 10 am to 1 pm. She swore the entire conversation was on Zoom. But she couldn’t remember if it was a continuous call, whether there were any audio issues, or if Kasey seemed distracted or his focus was elsewhere during the call.
This report’s evidence proves that Hightower fabricated the entire Zoom video interview and lied about it when testifying. Hightower would have noticed Kasey’s absence when he and his roommate left his house at 12:05 pm if their video interview didn’t end until 1 pm.
Kasey’s phone interview lasted 26 minutes, from 11:09 am to 11:35 am. Hightower never documented a word, and she passed it a few weeks later, on June 4. That’s when she reached out to Kasey to schedule a home inspection, which she also passed.
No honest person could believe Hightower secretly failed Kasey’s interview but officially passed it, then scheduled and passed a home inspection a month later, saying Kasey made similar application-failing statements. Or that Hightower twice told Kasey she would pass his home study in June and July after testifying she knew she would fail it in April.
Hightower scheduled and conducted a one-hour Zoom video home inspection on June 11, 2020, from Noon to 1 pm. She couldn’t recall if it was continuous, whether Kasey seemed distracted, or if his focus was elsewhere. She didn’t remember finding any deficiencies (because she never documented anything as it happened).
Hightower scheduled a 2.5-hour inspection that lasted only 30 minutes, and Kasey can prove she falsely testified. Below is Hightower’s 2 1/2-hour Zoom invitation:
Kasey testified that Hightower called on time at Noon, and they spent about 25 minutes walking through his 2,900-square-foot house. After Hightower declined Kasey’s second request to verify his income with bank statements, she noted three deficiencies:
No posted poison control number.
No posted evacuation plan.
No dedicated home phone.
While Hightower couldn’t remember anything about Kasey or his home unless she was reading from a script when testifying, Kasey can prove his home’s deficiencies and that he corrected all three within a day. Below is his email to Hightower.
Even though the court disregarded the next piece of evidence, Kasey submitted his internet browser history as an exhibit to prove that Hightower lied about the length of his home inspection and what they discussed. While it should be self-evident, there wasn’t time to inspect a 2,900-square-foot house, discuss his home’s deficiencies and how to remedy them, and talk about his book-length application in only 30 minutes.
Immediately after the call ended at 12:30 pm, Kasey’s internet activity showed he began searching for the local poison control number at 12:31 pm. He then read the news until 1:04 pm.
Kasey used his phone for the Zoom video call and his bedroom computer to search for the poison control number and to read the news. If Hightower were telling the truth, she would have remembered if his focus was elsewhere as he read the news for the final 30+ minutes of her inspection.
It was clear to Kasey that Hightower had not read his application by June 11. Hightower didn’t know anything about his home or him personally. Kasey noted at the time that she seemed like an “airhead” and acted as if she’d never seen the inside of another person’s house before. Most people would agree that someone unfamiliar with home inspections or her job duties wouldn’t schedule a 2 1/2 assessment that lasted barely 30 minutes. Hightower grossly mistook the time necessary to conduct a video walkthrough. But having never worked with DCYF before, Kasey reasoned that Hightower’s unusual behavior could have been typical.
But Hightower’s conduct was far from normal. She was a new employee completely overwhelmed with work. She had a poor grasp of technology, which complicated her efforts to catch up. Kasey’s evidence shows that Hightower was on the verge of issuing him a license to adopt children without reading his application! It’s terrifying to wonder how many other applicants received foster parent licenses without Hightower looking at their applications.
From 2018 through 2021, Washington taxpayers paid $250 million to settle lawsuits and pay judgments against DCYF (that’s over $171,000 every day for four years). Those cases involved foster parent abuses partly due to employees who failed to perform the most basic background checks on applicants. It’s easy to see how child abuse and neglect slip through the cracks when DCYF ignores and defends licensor misconduct.
Remembering that this exchange between Brodie and Hightower was a figment of her imagination, Hightower swore that Kasey said his home wouldn’t be appropriate for children of color or transgender youth.
What’s notable about this testimony is that Kasey’s two best friends are transgender and Hispanic. He wrote about both in his personal information. Hightower didn’t know that when she skimmed his writing to cherry-pick and misrepresent his application statements.
Besides additional counts of perjury, something else is striking about Hightower’s phony conversation. One could argue Hightower’s testimony represented her bigoted and racist feelings toward others as she invented those conversations using her imagination. Hightower’s prolific lies, deceit, and appalling lack of shame indicate something’s fundamentally wrong with her state of mind.
Hightower swore she had enough information to fail Kasey’s home study in April, so she never contacted his personal references. (Hightower used the same dishonest excuse for why she never attempted to verify Kasey’s income. Over Kasey’s objections on day two, the court allowed Hightower to change her testimony to “licensors never verify income.”)
Kasey listed four personal references on his application, but DCYF only contacted two. Those two people were his next-door neighbors. Internal department records show DCYF received written responses from them on April 21, 2020.
Hightower testified she knew by then that she had enough information to deny Kasey’s license (fail his home study). That’s why she never followed up with his other two references, neither of whom received questionnaires.
The well-established timeline of events doesn’t match Hightower’s testimony. She later admitted she didn’t decide to fail Kasey’s application until July 20.
DCYF had 15 months between the official decision and hearing to find evidence that Hightower performed any work on Kasey’s application between March 4 and July 20. But the only exhibits the department could offer the court was information Kasey sent them about himself.
Hightower swore they discussed the reason for his application, background, cultural affiliation, significant relationships, parenting experience, psychosocial history, religious and spiritual affiliation, child preference, and ability to meet the child’s needs. She said they didn’t discuss his sexuality but discussed it at some other time. However, she didn’t remember when because it wasn’t relevant to the assessment of his household. She also testified Kasey wasn’t denied a license due to his religious beliefs.
It was clear to Kasey that Hightower and Assistant Attorney General Kaelen Brodie manufactured that line of testimony. They needed a reason why Hightower couldn’t have discriminated against Kasey’s religious views or sexual orientation, as he alleged in his August 7, 2020 letter.
Kasey sent a three-page letter to ten different people and agencies on August 7, 2020. He described Hightower’s biased, unprofessional, and possibly illegal conduct. Kasey alleged Hightower failed his application because he wasn’t religious and identified as asexual. No one from DCYF disputed his accusations until the January 2022 hearing. That’s when Hightower fabricated a conversation that the evidence proves never happened.
Religion briefly came up when discussing what holidays Kasey celebrated during the home inspection. Hightower was visibly shocked (she gasped and flinched) when Kasey said he wasn’t religious, even though his application makes that clear. (Kasey described himself as a Humanist. Humanism seeks rational ways of solving human problems rather than relying on divine intervention. Hightower likely misread it as atheism when preparing her false testimony before the hearing.) Hightower remarked that she had “a personal relationship with God” during the inspection. Kasey thought it was an inappropriate comment from a government employee.
So when Hightower called Kasey on July 31, informing him she was failing his home study for untruthful reasons, Kasey rationalized that she discriminated against his religious views. But Kasey would later conclude that retaliation based on his email and a likely reprimand for Hightower’s poor work performance was the only explanation for her misconduct.
Hightower admitted writing her July 14, 2020 email; she said it was a mistake and regretted it; she meant to say that his home study would be finalized or completed by the end of the month.
Kasey still marvels at her total recall. Only eighteen days earlier, Hightower swore she couldn’t remember anything about that email. That’s because she never documented anything as it happened.
A more likely explanation was that the assistant attorney general helped manufacture Hightower’s testimony with information Kasey emailed him in early December 2021.
Kasey mentioned Hightower’s July 14 email when he wrote to Kaelen Brodie on December 9. In that message, Kasey included his theories about why Hightower had retaliated against him. Brodie admitted he never read Hightower’s interrogatories before certifying them (and his office didn’t keep copies). So he didn’t know she’d already denied sending her July 14 email before her testimony.
Then, only eighteen days later, Hightower “remembered” sending her email when testifying. What gave their scheme away was that parts of her testimony echoed Kasey’s theories he shared with Assistant Attorney General Kaelen Brodie. The only way Hightower could have known that information was if Brodie had given it to her. Therefore, Hightower was reading from someone else’s prepared script when she was supposed to be testifying truthfully. Not only is that deceiving the court, but it’s a conspiracy to deceive.
As usual, Hightower’s testimony about her email doesn’t match the timeline of events.
June 11: Hightower told Kasey during his home inspection that she would pass his home study.
June 18: Hightower responded to Kasey’s email about adopting a child through Northwest Adoption Exchange. She said he should wait until his license has been issued before inquiring about specific children.
June 29: According to the Foster Home Licensing Roadmap, completing the home inspection paperwork is the next to the last step in the licensing process. (The final step is issuing the license.) Kasey’s email shows that Hightower completed that step on this day.
July 9: Kasey wrote to Codie Veitenheimer that Hightower passed his home study, saying he should receive his license in late June or early July.
July 14: Hightower emailed Kasey to say she would pass his home study, repeating what Kasey had just told Veitenheimer on July 9.
You can’t repeat something that’s never been said.
How would Kasey know to write Veitenheimer on July 9 that Hightower had passed (or intended to pass) his home study if Hightower never told Kasey she would do that? That timeline of events shows that Hightower intended to pass Kasey’s home study when she wrote to him on July 14, 2020. She falsely testified about her actions and intentions during the January 2022 hearing.
Hightower misrepresented Kasey’s application when testifying. Misrepresentation is a different type of false statement. Sometimes, it’s worse than perjury because the intent is to hurt another person. There are three types of misrepresentation:
Laurel Hightower fraudulently misrepresented Kasey’s application to deceive the court. And what she said about Kasey was one of the worst things anyone’s ever said about him.
Kasey spent three months writing his personal information. It was a brutally honest and often painful account of adversity he’s overcome, how it’s made him a better person, and why he wanted to adopt what were essentially orphaned children. Their birth parents had relinquished legal rights, and no blood relative could be found or take them in. All those kids had were foster families until they turned 18, and then they were on their own. Kasey’s always believed that’s an unacceptable outcome for any child and wanted to help. His personal information made that point, and he looked forward to discussing it with his licensor had she asked him questions about his application.
Kasey also included his family history and his father’s racism and abuse. He wanted DCYF to know his complete history to show his empathy toward the less fortunate, having survived a difficult childhood. But Kasey stressed how he and his brother overcame living in an emotionally abusive household and accepted every person for who they are. Kasey also admitted he was still confused about specific parenting issues, which his parenting training resolved three weeks after he submitted his personal information.
Below is the excerpt Hightower fraudulently misrepresented.
Hightower testified, “He stated that he doesn’t like to talk about race due to fear that he will offend people, having offended people in the past, and finds it easier to not talk about.”
That’s remarkable testimony. Hightower had just declined to say what they discussed during Kasey’s interview in her interrogatories because she kept no documentation to refresh her memory. Clearly, Hightower (and Brodie) reviewed Kasey’s application before testifying to cherry-pick and misrepresent his writing yet again. Listening to the recording, you can even hear Kasey gasp in shock right at the end after Hightower cruelly slandered him.
This evidence of knowing fraudulence or misconduct is not often seen during administrative hearings. Kasey's documentation is about motivation: Hightower retaliated and used a few bad actors within an indifferent system to cover up her crimes. Kasey's evidence of wrongdoing makes for a strong storyline of malice (deliberate harm to another with evil intent).
Kasey admitted that the hearing devastated him emotionally. “The hearing was a humiliating, traumatic, and degrading experience, and I’m a broken man because of it,” he said. “But the real victims are the children waiting for an adoptive family before aging out of the system. I’ve wanted to adopt such kids since I was a child myself. There’s no doubt I would have received my license had I not criticized Laurel. Her lies cost at least one child a permanent home because DCYF will never work with me again.”
EVIDENTIARY CONCLUSION: RETALIATION EXPLAINS EVERYTHING
The ultimate goal of a plaintiff’s attorney is what we have in this report: indisputable evidence that thoroughly contradicts sworn statements and doesn’t match a well-established timeline of events.
The experience and hearing revealed that Hightower was a new employee in early 2020. She had difficulty understanding and using information technology. Kasey had to re-send her scans and PDFs by email six times, including parts of his application and forms already in her inbox. She couldn’t get Zoom’s video to work for Kasey’s May 14 interview. That’s why Kasey called her using his phone. She re-sent him his completed home inspection form for another signature because she filled the first paper out wrong. After passing his home inspection, Hightower wrote to Kasey that she couldn’t locate an attachment on the same email thread.
Ann Christiansen, Hightower’s supervisor, testified that Hightower was working on about two dozen case files at the time. With the stress of the pandemic and a heavy workload, it’s easy to see how Hightower was overwhelmed in a new job. That’s not an excuse for why she performed no verifiable work on Kasey’s application between March 4 and July 20. But it’s safe to say she wasn’t competently performing her job or working on anyone else’s application.
That created a perfect storm for her retaliation against Kasey when he sent an email to Codie Veitenheimer, a manager in the licensing division, on July 9. Kasey introduced himself and said he was becoming a licensed foster parent to adopt a child or children. He said Laurel Hightower was his licensing specialist. Kasey restated that she passed his home study in mid-June and that he should receive his license in late June or early July. However, he hadn’t received anything. He said he wrote to Hightower on July 6 for a status update, but she didn’t respond. Kasey suggested she sometimes didn’t communicate well. He asked Codie if she or someone else in the licensing division could check the status of his application (implying that Hightower was incompetent and couldn’t do it herself).
Veitenheimer’s reply to Kasey echoed his suspicion that Hightower was a struggling employee who had fallen behind in her work. Kasey’s complaint may have resulted in Veitenheimer escalating the issue. Hightower could have received a reprimand or discipline because of Kasey’s email.
DCYF witnesses testified that Hightower couldn’t have retaliated against Kasey because Hightower doesn’t report to Veitenheimer, as if no one communicates within DCYF. But interdepartmental communication is commonplace. Every DCYF interrogatory response contained emails between July 6 and August 3, including emails to other people Kasey didn’t know within the department, such as Rebecca Taylor. Hightower’s interrogatory included emails between herself and Veitenheimer between those dates. Discovery rules prohibited Kasey from asking to see Hightower’s personnel file, which may have contained a reprimand for her poor communication and incompetency.
Hightower could have taken the high road and accepted responsibility for her substandard work. Instead, she blamed Kasey by fabricating evidence, misrepresenting his application statements, and slandering him. She’s lied to everyone about everything since July 20, 2020.
Hightower invented discussions based on what Kasey admitted not knowing or understanding about parenting, race, culture, and gender identity. Disgustingly, she integrated his father’s racism into those fabricated discussions. She swore his father’s racist beliefs were his own. When she testified, Hightower deceived the court and denied Kasey even mentioning his father on his application. Yet Kasey devoted many paragraphs across several sections describing his challenging upbringing living with a racist and abusive father. Hightower knew that lying to her employer and then to an administrative court about racism would end Kasey’s dream of adoption.
RETALIATION EXPLAINS EVERYTHING.
While a Hollywood screenwriter would finish this report with the justice Hightower received due to her crimes, we don’t live in such a world. Qualified immunity shields corrupt state officials from criminal consequences. DCYF employees enjoy qualified immunity, giving them the legal right to retaliate, fabricate evidence, and commit perjury in and out of court. Kasey joins the hundreds of other Washington residents who have been victimized by DCYF employees who will forever remain unaccountable for their misconduct.
Besides exposing Laurel Hightower’s crimes, this report informs her friends, family, and future employers of her values and personality. Hightower possesses several traits found in pathological liars. Not only did she retaliate against Kasey, fabricate evidence, and commit perjury, but she registered as a doctor on WedMD with only a master’s in social work, not a doctorate. Hightower began her private counseling practice in March 2021. Still, she gave her only place of employment as DCYF during the January 2022 hearing. And she’s lied about her date of birth so many times on government documents that she’s listed as 32 to 34 at her home address. Those are all traits of pathological lying.
It’s impossible to trust Laurel Hightower’s word about anything when she’s incapable of telling the truth. She is a deeply disturbed person.