Frustration is growing about continued silence on the status of parallel administrative and criminal investigations into Palo Alto Children's Theatre.
"We're so frustrated we don't know what to do," Susie Stewart, a co-founder of the Children's Theatre Defense Fund, said of continued delays and lack of information.
"It's a nightmare." If the police had a case, it should have been announced by now, she said.
Police Chief Lynne Johnson will only say the investigation is "ongoing" with no breakthroughs to report, and no estimate of when details will be made public.
She told the Weekly last week that some potential witnesses have been reluctant to agree to a police interview. That makes it harder to "prove or disprove the allegations" and slows down the investigation, she said.
On March 26, Johnson estimated the criminal inquiry into "financial crimes" at the city's Children's Theatre would be ready to hand over to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office in three or four weeks.
"It's still a work in progress," Johnson said of the police investigation last week.
Sgt. Michael Yore is continuing to look through bank records, Johnson said.
Johnson said she just doesn't know when the investigation will conclude.
Director Pat Briggs, Costume Supervisor Alison Williams and Program Assistant Rich Curtis have been on paid administrative leave for 12 weeks.
Diane de Seve, Brigg's criminal attorney, said she hasn't been contacted by the department.
"I haven't heard about anything going on. â€¦ We have no news," she said.
As part of the separate administrative investigation — examining whether Briggs, Williams and Curtis followed the city's rules and procedures — Briggs was interviewed for two days on March 28 and 31, her employment attorney, Jon Parsons said.
"She answered every question put to her," Parsons said. "She's cooperating fully."
Parsons said the investigator didn't give any indication when Briggs' administrative investigation would be concluded. The investigator is either David Reuben, with Davis-based DR Associates International, or Doug Freifeld, an attorney with Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, according to information provided by the City Attorney's office.
Each of the three employees is being investigated separately.
"We were informed there were still other issues to be looked into and other people to be interviewed," Parsons said.
By law, the criminal and administrative investigations must be kept completely separate, in part because employees can be forced to testify in an administrative hearing while in a criminal probe they have the right to decline to testify under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Friends of the Children's Theatre, a non-profit support group, has also retained an attorney, board member Vic Ojakian said.
The Friends' lawyer, Nicole Healy of the Palo Alto-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm, said she did not want to comment.
The Children's Theater Defense fund — founded by Stewart, Mac Clayton and Beth Broderson — has now raised more than $35,000 to cover legal costs of Briggs, Williams and Curtis, Stewart said.
Yet the length of the investigation, which began last June following thefts from the Middlefield-Road theater, is wearing on theater supporters. Its effect on the three longtime city employees, who are unable to speak to the media, can only be guessed, Stewart said.
"What their motives are, I can't guess."
Loyal parents, alumni and former actors of the theater continue to address the City Council each week, although council members have said there is nothing they can do and that they also are not being told details of the investigations.
"Why can't anyone talk to anyone?" theater alum and sometimes-employee Jeremy Erman asked recently.