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Wooden train at center of Metolius controversy destroyed, taken to landfill

(Update: Undersheriff confirms train broken into pieces, dumped at landfill)

METOLIUS, Ore., (KTVZ) -- A wooden train set built by a convicted sex abuser that sparked controversy over city of Metolius plans to put it on display at City Hall has been dismantled and removed from the city, an official said Friday.

"The issue has been resolved," City Clerk and Code Enforcement official James Stratton told NewsChannel 21 Friday afternoon. "It's been dismantled and we no longer have it in the city limits."

Stratton declined further comment, but said the city council will discuss the matter further at its next meeting, expected to be held next week.

Jefferson County Undersheriff Marc Heckathorn confirmed in a Facebook post that the train "has been destroyed and is no more."

He said he went to the county landfill to photograph proof of its destruction, "but the remnants had already been transported away." A landfill employee said he saw city employees dump the train, already in pieces, and recognized it from Thursday's news coverage.

Cassandra Ruwaldt, victim of stepfather and convicted abuser Richard Pickett, told NewsChannel 21 on Friday she was told the train was bulldozed in the middle of the night and taken in multiple pieces to the landfill.


Earlier story:

The wooden train once displayed outside of Metolius City Hall has been at the center of controversy after a Madras woman said it was built by her stepfather, who went to prison for sexually abusing her.

Cassandra Ruwaldt, 29, said beginning at the age of 9, she was sexually abused by her stepfather, Richard Pickett, for nearly a decade. Ruwaldt said Pickett built wooden trains, and used the toy structures as an excuse to be alone with her in his woodshop, where he abused her.   

Pickett was convicted about a dozen years ago of sexually abusing Ruwaldt and pleaded guilty to charges related to child pornography and child sex abuse.

Ruwaldt said she was driving through Metolius with her husband when she drove by City Hall and saw the train displayed outside. She said she almost crashed, and immediately called her mother.

Ruwaldt said she was advised to reach out to the Metolius City Council.

Her husband, along with Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche, attended a city council meeting in March, where Ruwaldt presented a statement. Ruwaldt said she was informed that the train would be removed and be returned the next day. She said she did notice the train was no longer in front of City Hall.

Ruwaldt said she'd felt the council was not very receptive at the meeting, so when council members tried to reach out, she did not respond. She said after they promised to remove the train, she just wanted to move on.

"I said, ' It's going to be removed -- it's done," Ruwaldt said Thursday. "I don't really care any more, I want it gone. Then we got notice that they actually changed their mind and had a vote to put it back up in front of City Hall and display it, despite what they had told us back in March."

NewsChannel 21 spoke Thursday with Metolius City Councilor Dan Dulaney, who said the council voted on July 6 to have the wooden train placed back in front of City Hall. He claimed Ruwaldt was notified about the meeting but did not show up.

Ruwaldt said she found out on Tuesday by email and a letter of the city council's decision to again display the train in front of City Hall.

"The mayor told me to look at it as a tragedy turned to something beautiful and to move past it," Ruwaldt said. "I don't think he quite understands what re-victimization is, and the trauma behind it. He said it is not the same train, since he repainted it and removed some of the boards and replaced them."

NewsChannel 21 reached out to Mayor Carl Elliot but was unable to reach him.

"The just don't get it," Ruwaldt said. "And for them to display it and prominently displayed in their city and City Hall, they are telling all the (abuse) victims or potential victims that if they come forward, that no one is going to hear you. And I want to make sure children are being heard."

Councilor Dulaney said the train represents the history of the city and the Oregon Trunk Railroad from back in the early 1900s.

Asked if he understands why Ruwaldt is so offended by the display of the train and how difficult it is for her to see the train when driving through town, Dulaney replied, "She doesn't have to come through Metolius to either go to work or go home. She can take (Highway) 97, if its such a damn bother to her."

The train is sitting a block away from City Hall on Washington Avenue, behind a tractor. It will soon be moved back in front of City Hall, but there is no set date as of yet.

Central Oregon / Crime And Courts / Government-politics / Jefferson County / Madras / Politics / Top Stories
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

Comments

73 Comments

  1. Good grief Metolius get rid of the train. I have a hard time believing anybody driving through town will see the train and think what a great piece of art/history or whatever it is you are trying to promote.

  2. As a victim of sexual abuse I totally understand why she wouldn’t want it displayed.. This is a terrible trigger for her and thats just wrong for her to have to see this anytime she drives through this town. I live in Metolius and I sure as hell don’t want to see this train being displayed either.

  3. Why can’t I profess the same sort of leftist actions kate brown, ted wheeler, and z21 promote? In the same fashion no less? What a crock of crap that is

      1. You’re right. It was some other mayor that told his officers to stand down not long ago, and is letting his city be destroyed and some other governor that told the president they didn’t need or want any help getting things under control… while over 20 million in damage is being done in one city alone

          1. The number is a week old, and comes from portland officials themselves and as reported by msn. You’re telling me that the news msn puts out is garbage, or are you saying the almost police chief and others are lying?

            https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/protests-cost-23-million-in-damage-lost-business-portland-police-says/ar-BB16ujc7

            Then there’s this….but it’s over a month old
            “A widely touted $23 million hit to downtown Portland businesses mostly attributed to nightly demonstrations was almost entirely tied to lost sale figures from Pioneer Place mall, survey data and independent analysis shows.

            Portland police cited the figure during a news conference Wednesday to help illustrate the historic and damaging toll levied by six weeks of demonstrations over police brutality. National media repeated the estimate, which came from a Portland Business Alliance survey of 91 businesses from June 1 to June 18 about protest-related damages.

            Almost 90% in reported damages and lost business came from one respondent, which reported $2.5 million in damages and $18 million in lost sales because of business closures for repairs from May 31 through June 18. The respondent said the business lost $1 million every day during that time period, according to the survey. The respondent wrote that the financial hit came after retail shops and restaurants had already been “devastated” by COVID-19

                1. No he just thinks msn is more reputable than local reporters (lol), either way that 23 million number is garbage, sorry comrade

                2. What’s amazing is his “debunked” story is a flat-out lie, and you both accept it as gospel. The truth is your kind is costing the State MILLIONS of dollars

        1. Excellent Post !

          My words were “removed- censored-banned” for unknown reasons… most probably because I made the clear-accurate- and factual response- complete with examples- as to how the “We don’t promote violence” deniers actually do… I get it- the truth stings some times… but it’s still no excuse to violate the first amendment or the TOS standards !

          Thin skin as always.

      2. “We don’t ‘promote’ violence, nor do they.”

        Sure you do- and so do they… it’s an age old phrase- that “No Action- Is Action” !

        And for days and weeks on end our state Governor and the Portland Mayor have done “nothing” to curb the violence- the riots- the destruction of public property throughout Portland… As for Z21… You allow your site to be hijacked by CNN- a cesspool of anchors and group gropers who promote violence and hate against our nation- the President- and our culture on a daily basis… your denials are damn near laughable- if they weren’t so sad !

        1. Im glad they told the feds to leave, if they listen it just might work- no building is worth the use of secret police, look what happened at ruby ridge or waco

    1. DT, do you realize you posted a comment that not only doesn’t make sense but doesn’t seem to apply to the story you are commenting on?
      If you want to make conservatives look intelligent, read your posts first or better yet, have someone proofread them for you.

      1. Medcat, do you realize my original post was removed, and the one you read was in rebuttal? If you want to make yourself look intelligent, try being fully informed before you go run your mouth. Otherwise….you look like one of the typical leftists

  4. Wow with everything we can or cannot display, or say or feel in the world today and then this man has the insensitively to say she could use a different route so she didn’t have to look at it? He needs to take a new route right out of town. His comments are not ok.

  5. I think KTVZ is missing some important pieces to this story.

    For example, according to the bend Bulletin story on July 16, 2020, Jefferson County District Attorney Steve LeRiche said about the train that: “This was literally paraphernalia used by an offender in the grooming of a child,” he said. “It was actually used in the course of a molestation.”

    Pretty sure that this criminal case was well documented for anyone that wants to read it.

    I believe that various business owners and also the victim offered to pay the city of Metolius for their cost of this train to have it removed and disposed of.

    Apparently the victim and DA Steve LeRiche presented details of the case to the Metolius city council at a March council meeting. At the time they acted like they were going to remove it, then at a July 6 meeting they voted on record to keep it and display it, knowing full well that it was used in a crime, and that people were willing to pay them to get rid of it.

    Apparently one public commenter said about keeping the train in reference to the victim, let her whine.

    In the Bend Bulletin story, the Metolius mayor Carl Elliott basically blamed the victim for the city not doing the right thing and disposing of the train. Yeah, if the victim had just answered or returned the city’s calls they would have sold it to her. what about the other people who offered to pay them for it?

    in this story: “Dulaney said the train represents the history of the city and the Oregon Trunk Railroad from back in the early 1900s.”

    What does a small, wooden, rape train built 20 years ago have to do with early railroad history of the city of Metolius?

    How about get a real actual full size antique locomotive?

    Wasn’t there a story last year that the city of Metolius had a mayor who had dui’s, warrants and was supposed to be in jail or something, and the city council supported him until the news ran the story? And the mayor wouldn’t resign and had to be recalled?

    I think the solution is simple, the rape train should be disposed of, and the current Metolius city mayor and city council needs to resign, or be recalled.

    Here is the change.org petition to have the train removed.
    https://www.change.org/p/carl-elliot-get-rid-of-the-train-used-in-sex-crimes?source_location=topic_page

    1. Thanks for added info, which brings more questions of course – the biz owners offered the $3K the city says it put into the thing? (Not that it should matter, in many eyes.)
      This was a fairly long story for us (600 words) – newspapers often can go deeper, as is their mission. I have a feeling this isn’t our last story on the matter. Thanks for the change.org link as well, we knew of her GoFundMe page but don’t believe we knew about that.

      1. No problem Barney. There is still more to this story. Apparently the city of Metolius may already own a real antique train and locomotive that is located somewhere in WA state, and supposedly they have the money in their budget to move it, but they would rather spend money on the Metolius rape train built by a sex offender instead.
        The mayor and city council of Metolius appears to be taking a defiant and antagonistic position towards the people that are trying to have the train removed as they seem to still be in support of keeping the train. Apparently the City of Metolius didn’t present all of the facts about the rape trains history when they asked for public input about keeping the train. Apparently people in the city who supported keeping the train may not be too happy about being misled about the history of the train, as it doesn’t reflect well on them. The recordings from the Metolius city council meetings from March and July referenced in the articles have a lot of information about how this all played out. Apparently Garrett Andrews at the Bulletin was provided with that audio, if KTVZ wants it, someone can send it to you.

          1. Hi Barney, I passed your email address along, I think they will get it over to you.

            Personally, I think that the support the city of Metolius leaders are demonstrating for the train and their dismissive posture about it doesn’t seem like normal behavior, and is morally insulting. There is more info, questions, and speculations about this aspect of the story that exists.

            Here is another news story about the train.
            https://centraloregondaily.com/metolius-leaders-ok-train-display-linked-to-convicted-child-sex-offender/

            Here is the Bend Bulletin story about it.
            https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/crimeandjustice/metolius-council-votes-to-display-train-used-in-sex-crimes/article_5a6db504-c6e9-11ea-8b1a-1786692f566f.html

            I heard there is going to be a Madras Pioneer story about it coming out soon also.

          1. I don’t usually comment or participate in public forums or social media. Not much investigation needed on my part, as the details of the story are well known by people in the know already, and it has been detailed elsewhere. Just wanted people to know there is more to the story since KTVZ is covering it. Peace out.

  6. Aside from the fact that the thing was made by a child rapist, that train also looks like an absolute piece of garbage. Who would ever want or approve that eye sore to be placed in front of any government building, anywhere?

    1. There is still the criminal case and news reporting about it to remember the history. Do you really need the rape train also? What about the child porn that was filmed? Do you need that also to remember the history?

      1. I don’t want that piece of garbage around 🙂 I’m absolutely, 100% in favor or removing objects that represent violence against others. That’s the point.

  7. This is ridiculous – it’s bad enough the city doesn’t acknowledge the victim’s reasoning and sounds like a jackass of a human being, but it’s not even a cool piece of art – it’s ugly in so many ways!

  8. someone needs to look into the sexual behavior of those who see no issue with this action, for Pete’s sakes. how inane, surely the people of Metolius would not like their elected officials perpetrating abuse and the trauma it causes?

  9. Shame on Metolius City Councilor Dan Dulaney and the whole of the city Council!!!! It was used in a crime! To bad leaving a flaming bag of dog stuff on his door step would be frowned upon these days…. To the good people of Metolius, GET RID OF IT!

  10. The issue of the train is not the only issue here. The fact that they got rid of it doesn’t change that they already voted in favor of keeping it on record. What was the formal process they followed to get rid of the train? I doubt they followed one. Why was the city trying to get money from the victim to get rid of the train when they just got rid of it for free now that they are under scrutiny? None of this seems ethical. The city leaders need to resign or be recalled.

  11. they shoulda seen that coming in the first place. the mayor and counsel person are just about heartless. if they wanted a crappy wood train to represent the city they could just make one instead of using one made by a known local pedophile

  12. Barney, I know you have a full plate, but is there any way we can get a “sort by newest” option on the comments like we used to have? Also, the ability to see our own comments and any replies would be extremely useful. It seems like we lost a lot in the cutover to this system, which isn’t awesome. I appreciate what you do! Thank you sir.

  13. Someone commented over on the bulletin story comments that they don’t believe the victim, and think the story is a hoax and that this is cancel culture, despite the well documented criminal case and the district attorney Steve LeRiche detailing the case.

    Guess that’s the difference between having a responsibility to your opinion vs. being entitled to one.

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