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Dispute at YMCA leads to arrest

May 02, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A dispute at the Hagerstown YMCA last month ended with a Hagerstown woman being taken away in handcuffs.

Jillian Greene Keene, 39, of 39 Broadway, Hagerstown, was charged with disorderly conduct-failure to obey on April 4 after an argument. She is due in Washington County District Court on May 22.

The dispute focused on the YMCA staff's treatment of Keene's daughter, Rosemary, who was ejected from the building before her mother arrived.

Jillian Keene, who said her family belongs to the YMCA, complained. The argument escalated and an employee called police.

Jillian Keene said in an interview Wednesday that she was driving a car pool that day and had four kids in the car with her. Another six kids were waiting to be picked up at the YMCA.

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She said that after a police officer drove her away in handcuffs, the children had to wait about 10 minutes before her husband, Jerry, got to the YMCA.

In a letter to Jillian Keene, G. Clair Baker Jr., an attorney representing the YMCA, wrote that Rosemary Keene and a friend were not supposed to be in an adult locker room. Rosemary "made physical contact with a staff member, gave false names and incorrect membership status to a staff member, and referred to the complaining YMCA member as a lesbian," the letter alleged.

In a written response, Jillian Keene disputed the allegations and wrote that a YMCA employee told Rosemary to give a false name. She wrote that Rosemary thought an unidentified female member was a lesbian because she stared at Rosemary while she was unclothed.

When Jillian Keene argued on her daughter's behalf, YMCA employee Sharee O'Haver threatened to revoke the family's membership, according to allegations in charging documents.

Keene said "the only reason she was having problems with the YMCA in Hagerstown was due to the fact that she was black," charging documents state.

On Tuesday, O'Haver referred questions to Executive Director Michael Flicek.

Flicek said the Keenes' membership is in dispute, but wouldn't comment further. "We take these things seriously," he said.

Baker did not return two calls for comment this week.

Jillian Keene also has complained about the manner in which Officers Charles Streightiff and Howard Sollenberger arrested her. She alleged in a written complaint to the Hagerstown Police Department that Sollenberger "twisted my hand painfully" and took away her family membership passes.

Streightiff said he couldn't comment without permission from the city's attorney.

Police Chief Arthur Smith said Tuesday he wasn't sure if Keene had filed a complaint.

Smith said he previously asked the department's professional standards division to review the arrest, but hasn't heard how the review turned out.

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