Clear answers elusive in library controversy

By Mike Weland

Ask about the status of an investigation into allegations regarding the operation of the Boundary County Library and you’ll get an array of answers, depending on who you ask. But the one person who can provide the definitive answer is so far keeping mum despite repeated requests.

A limited synopsis of the allegations was published April 25 in the KVT article, “Allegations against library far reaching.”

Only two library board members responded. Due to Idaho open meeting and personnel laws, they are constrained from speaking freely to address the issues, and, like most Idaho government officials, are most often advised by ICRMP officials not to speak to issues outside a properly noticed meeting.

“Obviously the library is gonna get some heat from your article about the Boilers,” library board member Aaron Bohachek, formerly a reporter with the Bonners Ferry Herald, wrote the day of publication. “I’ll give you a break since you’re definitely not up to speed on the game they’ve been playing. As one journalist to another (and off the record here) I just want you to know that there are a (sic) numerous factual errors in it that could seriously expose you to libel lawsuits from some of the individuals named. You might want to do a little research on your sources and possibly interview more than one before dropping something this heavy.”

After later being informed that emails requesting details on the nature of the emergency that prompted closure of the library had been sent to each board member, using addresses posted on the official library website,  with no response (see “Boundary County Library going into dry dock, Ashworth says,” April 15) he said those email addresses do not go to the board members nor to the addresses shown, but instead forward to the library director.

“We are waiting for a written report from ISP investigators who have been reviewing the case after receiving it from the prosecutor and the sheriff’s office despite Mr. Boiler’s assertions to the contrary,” Bohachek wrote in a subsequent email to April 27. “Primary indicators are that the case has no merit but we won’t be prepared to say that until we receive the written report. The incident had very little connection to the library, aside from the fact that both parties involved were employees. As with many of the incidents described in the article, the facts of the matter were fudged a little or a lot to gain sympathy for a certain side.”

Librarian and tech educator Dana Boiler, an employee at Boundary County Library since December, 2019, and her husband, attorney Jeff Boiler, brought the allegations to the attention of library administration over a period of months beginning in September, their access to the board denied, they said, after she came to be seen as a whistleblower.

Those complaints reached a crescendo after they learned only recently that in June, 2020, their then 13-year-old daughter had been included without consent on a list of recipients of risque videos allegedly uploaded by a library employee to her since-deleted Facebook page, “Library Strippers.”

They were filmed at the employee’s off grid home, the Boilers said, and uploaded from library computers after hours over a period of months. With library keys not being requested for return when employees left over a period of years, Dana Boiler said that such after hours activity was far from rare, with drinking, parties and sleepovers  relatively common, often with library monies left unsecure.

The video they were able to preserve before the page was taken down depicts the 25-year-old librarian on a stripper pole, clad in a sheer brown bikini, dancing to “Lollipop” by Li’l Wayne.

“The unlawful transmission of sexually explicit images, particularly to a minor, is a federal crime,” Jeff Boiler wrote in an addendum to his official complaint, given March 29 to library legal counsel Tim Wilson. “Sending this video to my 13-year old daughter, along with several others like it, featuring the same cast (which videos are now in my possession), and taken in context of the above facts, makes it clearly appear to be an orchestrated and deliberate attempt to engage in and further an ongoing pattern of a variety of unlawful activity violating both State and Federal law. This is now being done under color and pretense of State legal authority through active Board participation in the retaliation process. These facts clearly evidence malice and active endorsement and participation in the unlawful conduct by the Library District’s governing body itself.”

After being told that a request was being made to have Idaho State Police detectives launch an investigation of the point raised in the complaint and then not hearing from ISP, he called the District 1 office in Coeur d’Alene on Friday, and yesterday he sent an email to Boundary County Prosecutor Andrakay Pluid.

“As you recall,” he wrote, “You and I spoke regarding the report forwarded to you below three weeks ago. In that conversation, you advised me that our complaint regarding transmission of sexually explicit material to our minor daughter, made initially on March 29 to Tim Wilson as attorney for the Library District, had been referred to ISP for investigation. You indicated that the reason for the referral was a stated conflict of interest at the Sheriff’s Office, relating to the suspect being a public employee of a taxing District within the County, and the Sheriff’s Office also being a county-funded entity.

“I have learned that no such referral was ever made in the manner required for ISP to even consider opening an investigation into the referral … After you and I spoke by phone on or about April 5, we were not subsequently contacted by ISP. Because my wife and I were not contacted by ISP and because your office did not request the evidence beyond the partial video supplied to you, after a week passed following our conversation, I investigated, and contacted ISP more than once. I have now learned what actually occurred.

“I was advised last Friday by ISP personnel responsible for such investigations that their offices had no record of a referral. I have confirmed those facts with that officer’s supervisor. ISP has advised that such a referral can only be considered by ISP if a written referral from a law enforcement agency is received. We have confirmed that no such written referral was ever made.”

“I was told by Undersheriff Rich Stephens that, contrary to Jeff Boilers’ assertion, the complaint was referred to Paul Berger and was looked in to or is being looked in to,” Pluid replied to the question when asked by “My office does not have an investigative component, so when I received the complaint information from Tim Wilson it was sent to the BCSO for investigation. Due to the appearance of conflict between the County SO and the Library, Rich opted to send it to Paul Berger for review. Additional information was also provided by (redacted), the individual depicted in the video, and that was also provided to ISP.

“As far as how Rich Stephens made the request to Paul Berger, I can’t say as I wasn’t involved in that aspect. I would encourage you to contact the SO directly with follow up about that. I have not yet received any conclusion to or opinions on the investigation from ISP or BCSO so I don’t have any information on the results of it at this time.”

“Yes, there has been a request to ISP to see if they would take a look at the case to avoid any conflicts of interest,” Sheriff David Kramer wrote today.
“There has not been an official response from ISP at this point.”

In four phone calls over two days and an email to Lieutenant Berger, head of ISP District 1 Investigations Division and the only person, I was informed, with authority to respond, I asked “if an official request by any authorized Boundary County entity or individual has been submitted to your office for investigation of allegations made by Jeff Boiler as regards Boundary County?”

Boiler said Berger is the ISP official who informed him Friday that no such request had been made.

As of 4:30 p.m. today, Berger has not responded to kvt’s request.