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Children's Theatre shows will go on, mostly

Original post made on Feb 7, 2008

The shows will go on at Palo Alto's Children's Theatre, with one cancelation and one delay, according to a revised schedule announced Wednesday. Extra staff will be borrowed from other departments or contracted.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 6, 2008, 9:24 PM

Comments (12)

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Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2008 at 2:24 am

It is cruel to cancel PLACES! Michael wrote it. It should be performed as a tribute to him, and the 75th Anniversary of the Theatre.

Why are the police afraid to provide explanations? Since they have searched the Theatre and searched people's homes, how would talking to the public obstruct the investigation? If the staff of the Theatre have done something so terrible that they would imperil us by stepping foot in the Theatre, shouldn't we know? Shouldn't the City know, since the police have deprived them of staff?

If the police cannot answer these questions, they should let Pat, Alison and Rich back to work. How can you indefinitely suspend people from their jobs who have not been charged with a crime?

What "financial crimes" are worth the heart-ache and sorrow this investigation has caused?

The police have taken away mentors and teachers from the children of Palo Alto in a time of tragedy. Why?

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Posted by Lew Mermelstein
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:54 am

"... its two remaining full-time staff members..."
I thought there were three full-time remaining staff, not two.

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Posted by just two
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Feb 7, 2008 at 10:25 am

Nope Lew,
Just Emmika and Mike ...

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Posted by Gordon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2008 at 10:32 am

What's going on here? If the police think that crimes were commited why don't they make arrests? They have surched homes and the theatre itself, what more do they need to do?

Perpahs the police don't really have anything at all and are just hopping that, given time, this will all blow over and everyone will forget. But I don't think that people will forget this.

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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 7, 2008 at 10:50 am

I think it would be a good idea to raise money to pay the legal fees that Pat, Allison and Rich will incur in defending themselves. I'm sure none of them has much money.

The community outpouring in support of the Children's Theatre has been amazing, making me wish all the more fervently for a just and speedy resolution of this matter. It now appears that it is only through good legal representation that Pat, Allison and Rich can be protected.

Mac Clayton

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Posted by John and Ann
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2008 at 11:48 am

Does someome who is actually in P.A. know if this is a good idea, if it is needed? We live pretty far away, but we have manged to keep up with all this sad episode because of the P.A. weekly web site.

The last time we were in Palo Alto, and got to see Pat and Michael, was last May. We were up there because Ray Doherty had died. (He taught theater at Sequoia).

We would give to a fund to help support everone who needs it at CT.
So, please post as to how this could be done. We have been so sorry for all of this mess. We send out best to everone.

John did CT. As did our daughter Margarite.

John and and McClintock

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Posted by James
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Midtown Jeremy and others have to remember that financial crimes must be incredibly difficult to investigate. This is isn't TV or the movies everyone, so people need to stop reacting emotionally and be patient. I would rather see a complete, thorough investigation, and not have the police or anyone in the system rush to judgment. I am sure the investigators were handed circumstances that merit the time and effort. There was certainly enough facts and evidence to justify search warrants being issued by a judge. Furthermore, I don't see anything wrong with respecting the privacy of those being investigated. Good people can make bad decisions, even decisions that rise to a criminal level. Be patient, respect the system, and let the authorities do their job.

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Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Feb 8, 2008 at 11:34 am

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Palo Alto Police Chief Lynne Johnson just released the following statement about the Children's Theatre investigation. We will be posting a news story in the next few minutes. Here is the statement:

"Dear Palo Alto Citizens,

The Palo Alto Police Department is continuing its criminal investigation into financial irregularities at the Children’s Theatre and I am providing this progress update. Because individuals are believed innocent until proven guilty, we have not released specific details in order to protect the individuals involved. This is our standard practice. Due to the nature and the complexity of the investigation, this is the extent of details that I am able to release at this time.

The Palo Alto community has always had an expectation that the Police Department will impartially uphold and enforce all City and State laws. The crimes we are investigating are very serious and do not involve misappropriation of small amounts of money or office supplies, but potentially tens of thousands of dollars.

After considerable thought and discussion, the Children’s Theatre was temporarily closed for four days. I asked for the closure in order to secure specific areas of the Theatre to maintain the chain of evidence for the investigation. Additionally, the City had to determine how to provide supervision for the remaining employees and ensure the safety of children at the Theatre because several members of the staff were put on administrative leave. At the time of the closure there were no scheduled rehearsals in progress and a Police Captain oversaw the closure to ensure the process was as low key as possible.

During the course of the investigation, various City departments including the City Attorney’s office and the District Attorney have assisted. This investigation is very complex and requires time to thoroughly complete the following:

• Witness and employee interviews
• Review and analysis of thousands of City documents and emails
• Search warrants on numerous employee bank accounts (the average turn around time for obtaining information from these searches is six to eight weeks)
• Search warrants on three employee homes and offices, and a number of storage lockers

Before and after photographs were taken at each location searched to ensure the premises were left in the same condition as the officers found them.

My officers who are involved in this investigation are working tirelessly through their days off and on weekends to complete a thorough and objective case as fast as possible. It is very difficult for officers to conduct investigations involving other City staff members, but it is incumbent upon us to do so as professionally and as sensitively as possible. We ask for the community’s patience in allowing us to complete this difficult investigation.

All of us at the Police Department are saddened at the passing of Michael Litfin. He was a valued employee who contributed greatly to the Children’s Theatre. On the day of the theatre closure Mr. Litfin voluntarily came into the Police Department and wanted to give a statement. Due to his illness, my investigators did not want him to have to wait, so he was sent home. When we were made aware of the seriousness of his condition, we chose not to interview him.

I understand that this investigation is extremely sensitive and emotional. The Children’s Theatre is a long-standing and valued institution in this community. The beloved staff have provided years of incredible service to the youth in Palo Alto. This investigation will not overshadow those achievements.

I will provide updates as the investigation progresses; however, due to its complexity of the investigation, I will not be able to address many of the community’s questions until the conclusion of the investigation."


Lynne Johnson
Police Chief

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm

1) When the dust settles we will find out what crimes were committed and by whom. Until then, I don't think the police owe it to us to report their progress. I thought they should at first, but then thought about potential problems with publicizing their progress. What if it interferes with their investigation? I'll wait and stay put until they are ready. I don't want to have them prematurely share with us.

2) Legal fund is very thoughtful. They make $100k+ each for working in a community theater, so I won't do anything like that. I'm sure there are some attorneys in our community who could do pro-bono or reduced-rate work.

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Can we only hope that the PAPD has the 'good taste' and common sense not to post uniformed officers in the lobby of the Children's Theater and 'guard the doors' to the offices during Michael's Memorial on on February 17th??? How just ;too nice; of Benest and the City whoevers to 'lift the ban' on access to the Theater and allow Pat, Allison, and Richard to even attend Michael's Memorial in the Children's Theater.

Like this comment
Posted by T.D.widow
a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 9, 2008 at 8:12 pm

This episode has demonstrated that the PAPD not only lacks "good taste" & common sense, but any semblance of sensitivity. I have very little confidence in the "authorities" in this case.

Like this comment
Posted by T.D.widow
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2008 at 8:13 pm

This episode has demonstrated that the PAPD not only lacks "good taste" & common sense, but any semblance of sensitivity. I have very little confidence in the "authorities" in this case.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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