Mountain Club Trouble

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DeTour
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by DeTour »

Bottom line is CMC hired a registered sex offender and put him in charge of IT, finance and HR - the three most sensitive and powerful positions in any organization, all run by one person, a twice-convicted sex offender. Then ignored or minimized complaints about the person. Even after he was exposed and fired, CMC took no action to help deal with the damage he inflicted. Most of the victims learned of his actions from law enforcement.

Even now the org resorts to lawyer's doublespeak and smokescreens to obscure this fact: CMC did not run a background check on Chun Min Chiang. Their statement says they run background checks on "positions that work with youth" - but Chiang didn't work with youth. Translation: we didn't background check him. And CMC says he "may have falsified his background" to some unidentified state agency. You can't falsify your way out of a registered sex offender status, unless you create an entirely false identity, not the case here.

Yes, CMC has a good mission. And Larry Nassar was a good trainer for USA Gymnastics except for, you know, the 265 sex assults on young women and girls. If you want to "get back to the mountains," then deal with the poison decisively, don't try to minimize and obscure. Recognize what's wrong with the culture and change it, and at this point, hold the people responsible for enabling him accountable.
Last edited by DeTour on Sat Jul 31, 2021 10:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by susanjoypaul »

DeTour wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 7:48 pm Bottom line is CMC hired a registered sex offender and put him in charge of IT, finance and HR - the three move sensitive and powerful positions in any organization, all run by one person, a twice-convicted sex offender. Then ignored or minimized complaints about the person. Even after he was exposed and fired, CMC took no action to help deal with the damage he inflicted. Most of the victims learned of his actions from law enforcement.

Even now the org resorts to lawyer's doublespeak and smokescreens to obscure this fact: CMC did not run a background check on Chun Min Chiang. Their statement says the run background checks on "positions that work with youth" - but Chiang didn't work with youth. Translation: we didn't background check him. And CMC says he "may have falsified his background" to some unidentified state agency. You can't falsify your way out of a registered sex offender status, unless you create an entirely false identity, not the case here.

Yes, CMC has a good mission. And Larry Nassar was a good trainer for USA Gymnastics except for, you know, the 265 sex assults on young women and girls. If you want to "get back to the mountains," then deal with the poison decisively, don't try to minimize and obscure. Recognize what's wrong with the culture and change it, and at this point, hold the people responsible for enabling him accountable.
You said everything I've been thinking and more, and you said it a lot better than what was in my head.

The CMC has a long history of "sweeping things under the rug." I know from personal experience and the experiences of friends. Not connected with this particular case at all, but other issues that were raised and communicated to the state office and responded to with BS emails that downplayed some serious problems. That's why I quit the club a long time ago, after putting in a lot of volunteer hours on the council and in other roles in this region. And like you said, Larry Nassar was a good trainer. The US Olympic Committee, Catholic church, and Boys Scouts of America have done a lot of good things too. That didn't excuse them from taking responsibility for the victimizations they ignored, allowed, and covered up, and doing good things for the Colorado mountaineering community doesn't excuse the CMC. For the sake of the staff members who were not involved, the sake of all the volunteers (because let's face it, without volunteers the CMC would be nothing), and the sake of the members, I hope they take this issue seriously and recognize that they have a bigger problem than just one sick guy who got caught.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by Jenna N S »

susanjoypaul wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 8:32 am
DeTour wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 7:48 pm Bottom line is CMC hired a registered sex offender and put him in charge of IT, finance and HR - the three move sensitive and powerful positions in any organization, all run by one person, a twice-convicted sex offender. Then ignored or minimized complaints about the person. Even after he was exposed and fired, CMC took no action to help deal with the damage he inflicted. Most of the victims learned of his actions from law enforcement.

Even now the org resorts to lawyer's doublespeak and smokescreens to obscure this fact: CMC did not run a background check on Chun Min Chiang. Their statement says the run background checks on "positions that work with youth" - but Chiang didn't work with youth. Translation: we didn't background check him. And CMC says he "may have falsified his background" to some unidentified state agency. You can't falsify your way out of a registered sex offender status, unless you create an entirely false identity, not the case here.

Yes, CMC has a good mission. And Larry Nassar was a good trainer for USA Gymnastics except for, you know, the 265 sex assults on young women and girls. If you want to "get back to the mountains," then deal with the poison decisively, don't try to minimize and obscure. Recognize what's wrong with the culture and change it, and at this point, hold the people responsible for enabling him accountable.
You said everything I've been thinking and more, and you said it a lot better than what was in my head.

The CMC has a long history of "sweeping things under the rug." I know from personal experience and the experiences of friends. Not connected with this particular case at all, but other issues that were raised and communicated to the state office and responded to with BS emails that downplayed some serious problems. That's why I quit the club a long time ago, after putting in a lot of volunteer hours on the council and in other roles in this region. And like you said, Larry Nassar was a good trainer. The US Olympic Committee, Catholic church, and Boys Scouts of America have done a lot of good things too. That didn't excuse them from taking responsibility for the victimizations they ignored, allowed, and covered up, and doing good things for the Colorado mountaineering community doesn't excuse the CMC. For the sake of the staff members who were not involved, the sake of all the volunteers (because let's face it, without volunteers the CMC would be nothing), and the sake of the members, I hope they take this issue seriously and recognize that they have a bigger problem than just one sick guy who got caught.
I don't have anything new to add to what you said, but just want to thank you both DeTour and susanjoypaul for your comments. The fact that "good" originations and "good" people are so often given a pass on assault is so sickening.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by dubsho3000 »

susanjoypaul wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 8:32 am
DeTour wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 7:48 pm Bottom line is CMC hired a registered sex offender and put him in charge of IT, finance and HR - the three move sensitive and powerful positions in any organization, all run by one person, a twice-convicted sex offender. Then ignored or minimized complaints about the person. Even after he was exposed and fired, CMC took no action to help deal with the damage he inflicted. Most of the victims learned of his actions from law enforcement.

Even now the org resorts to lawyer's doublespeak and smokescreens to obscure this fact: CMC did not run a background check on Chun Min Chiang. Their statement says the run background checks on "positions that work with youth" - but Chiang didn't work with youth. Translation: we didn't background check him. And CMC says he "may have falsified his background" to some unidentified state agency. You can't falsify your way out of a registered sex offender status, unless you create an entirely false identity, not the case here.

Yes, CMC has a good mission. And Larry Nassar was a good trainer for USA Gymnastics except for, you know, the 265 sex assults on young women and girls. If you want to "get back to the mountains," then deal with the poison decisively, don't try to minimize and obscure. Recognize what's wrong with the culture and change it, and at this point, hold the people responsible for enabling him accountable.
You said everything I've been thinking and more, and you said it a lot better than what was in my head.

The CMC has a long history of "sweeping things under the rug." I know from personal experience and the experiences of friends. Not connected with this particular case at all, but other issues that were raised and communicated to the state office and responded to with BS emails that downplayed some serious problems. That's why I quit the club a long time ago, after putting in a lot of volunteer hours on the council and in other roles in this region. And like you said, Larry Nassar was a good trainer. The US Olympic Committee, Catholic church, and Boys Scouts of America have done a lot of good things too. That didn't excuse them from taking responsibility for the victimizations they ignored, allowed, and covered up, and doing good things for the Colorado mountaineering community doesn't excuse the CMC. For the sake of the staff members who were not involved, the sake of all the volunteers (because let's face it, without volunteers the CMC would be nothing), and the sake of the members, I hope they take this issue seriously and recognize that they have a bigger problem than just one sick guy who got caught.
Comparing the CMC to the Catholic church seems pretty unfair. They didn't relocate this guy or give him another job. They fired him and help put him in prison by cooperating with the authorities. The Catholic church facilitated more abuse through their actions, by moving pedophiles to new flocks and preventing justice. According to the press, the CMC provided time off for mental health, helped sweep private property for cameras/devices, and helped the authorities identify victims. Seems like the opposite of the Catholic church. (Oh and the CMC also don't try to persuade people that there are invisible gods watching them and judging them and who might torture them for eternity if they don't do what the priest tells them, which seems like it could be damaging to the mental health of children and even adults.)

What is the CMC's larger problem? They should do background checks?
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by susanjoypaul »

dubsho3000 wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 10:47 am What is the CMC's larger problem? They should do background checks?
They should take complaints of abuse by members and staff seriously, investigate them, and act on them. When you downplay victims of abuse, you are revictimizing them. That's why many victims never report - they know from experience that those in authority who are supposed to protect them will often, instead, question their credibility, humiliate them, ruin their reputation, and cause them further personal and professional harm.

Allowing the abuse to continue for years, and allowing more people to be victimized, is not acceptable.

I'm guessing you've never been caught up in a situation like this and if that's true, then good for you. But please respect the plight of those who have. They are going through enough crap without having to read posts from members of the outdoor community defending the actions of their abuser's protector, which is exactly the role the CMC played in this situation. It's not the first time, but I sure hope it's the last.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by Buckie06 »

Response from the CMC, sounds like they took action to get help for the staff and make the building safe. Although the timeline of when these ladies found out, and the fact that they felt ousted from their jobs is so unfortunate. It is depressing that we live in such a modern and enlightened world, and yet this BS still happens to women every day.

"We previously shared with you the news that the Colorado Mountain Club and several of our employees were among victims of a criminal predator, who was arrested earlier this year and is facing multiple charges of placing hidden cameras in our office and throughout the Denver Metro area and violating individual privacy. We are appalled and angered by this terrible violation and its impact on our team, and we continue to work with authorities to support the case against him. We have been told by authorities conducting the investigation that all victims at CMC have been notified.

The perpetrator, now charged with several criminal offenses, is a former employee who was terminated in November 2019 after our investigation substantiated a complaint of bullying and harassment against a co-worker. At that time, there were no indications that any criminal behavior had taken place or that there were any safety concerns from our staff. It was not until January 2021 that we were alerted by police of suspected criminal activity involving hidden devices and privacy violations in our workplace.

The safety and well being of our staff, volunteers, and members is always our foremost priority. We immediately shared the information with staff and CMC members and quickly began our own assessment and action plan to support and protect our team.

If you watched Tuesday’s Channel 9 news story about a few CMC staff members filing a complaint and reporting feeling unsafe and unsupported, you may have questions about CMC’s response, which was not fully reported in the story. We deeply sympathize with those individuals victimized by this terrible crime and want to take this opportunity to provide facts about ways CMC is supporting our team through this terrible situation. Some of the actions we immediately took in January and February include:

• Having professional electronics sweep of the building performed (no cameras or other recording devices found).

• Providing all staff 20 additional days of paid time off to heal and process.

• Providing multiple group counseling sessions for female staff lead by a licensed therapist

• Making available to all staff one-on-one counseling sessions with a licensed therapist

• Working with the police department appointed victim advocate to gain insights and recommendations on how best to support staff, and providing her contact information for all staff

• Providing information about resources available through our Employee Assistance Program and how to file a workers' compensation claim if deemed appropriate

• Re-keying the building perimeter and CMC offices, and resetting all building alarm codes

• Contacting our Information Technology support team and installing an upgraded anti-virus/malware system that uses state of the art technology to identify threats on computers

• Beginning the process to quickly replace all computers originally set-up by Mr. Chiang

• Working with IT security team to help identify and resolve any security risks

We continue to advocate for, and support our staff members, including some who have chosen to not yet return to the office. We are focused on proactively establishing a renewed sense of safety in the workplace and supporting team members.

Below is a timeline of the events to provide full transparency and bring clarity regarding our proactive actions; our collaborative work with law enforcement to bring the offender to justice; our commitment to all our employees, and to address misleading statements in some reporting.

Timeline:

➢ November 2019: Chun Chiang terminated for bullying and harassment. No indication of criminal activity.

➢ September 2020: CMC’s Instagram account was hacked. We reported the hack to authorities. No indication that any criminal activity occurred at the CMC.

➢ December 2020: Golden Police informed CMC they had executed a search warrant on Mr.

Chiang’s residence and asked if we would be willing to cooperate if needed. We confirmed we would cooperate, however at that time we were not aware of any indication of criminal activity at CMC.

➢ January 2021: Golden Police recovered evidence of videos and contacted CMC to identify a victim. Within the week, CMC notified Senior Leadership, had a professional electronics sweep of the building performed and notified all staff about the cameras and the police investigation.

➢ February 2021: We provided staff with paid leave, therapy and counseling services, and victim advocates services; initiated security measures to bolster safety including re-keying buildings and offices; provided new computers and upgraded anti-malware systems and identified and resolved other potential security risks. CMC received notice that some employees obtained legal counsel and that no contact should be made with these employees except through their attorney.

➢ March 2021: We continued to implement enhanced security measures including the roll out of new computers, the installation of new alarm codes for the building and upgraded IT systems software. CMC was notified by Golden Police that Chiang had been arrested. The Golden Police advised us that they had contacted all the victims at the CMC location and made the victims aware of the crimes committed against them.

We are thankful for the overwhelming support from the CMC community and the gratitude that has been expressed by many in our community for our transparency and leadership through this difficult time. We will continue to keep you apprised of our ongoing work and unwavering commitment to the safety of our staff and members and the public. Thank you for your ongoing support and engagement. "

https://cmc.org/Portals/0/Documents/Imp ... zQScmvJ-Q4
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by Aphelion »

dubsho3000 wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 10:47 am
Comparing the CMC to the Catholic church seems pretty unfair. They didn't relocate this guy or give him another job. They fired him and help put him in prison by cooperating with the authorities. The Catholic church facilitated more abuse through their actions, by moving pedophiles to new flocks and preventing justice. According to the press, the CMC provided time off for mental health, helped sweep private property for cameras/devices, and helped the authorities identify victims. Seems like the opposite of the Catholic church.
It seems a pretty fair comparison. The CMC spent years protecting the abuser from accusations, refused to do even the most basic due diligence with regard to investigating those complaints, bullied his victims out of the organization, and according to the victims, have not actually done many/any of the mitigation actions they claim to have performed. They've offered little but a weasel-worded non-apology, and have a loyal cadre of supporters to talk about how we can't let petty things like kiddie porn get in the way of the greater mission. They only cooperated with the police once he made them look bad in public by "hacking" their social media. Sure, they didn't physically relocate him to insulate him from prosecution, but otherwise it's very similar to the Catholic church's behavior.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by cottonmountaineering »

thanks for sharing, whenever something high profile happens like this, its usually due to a systemic problem with the organization.

i'd encourage people to reflect if they want to give their time and monetary support to this organization given a) they couldnt be bothered to perform a background check or b) decided to hire a sex offender anyways and c) ignored multiple incidents/red flags
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by HikesInGeologicTime »

dubsho3000 wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 10:47 am They should do background checks?
Just to focus on this before somebody tries to claim any time/effort-related costs of doing a background check: it’s both free and easy to find out if someone’s a registered sex offender in Colorado. Granted, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s site, like a lot of state agencies’, isn’t the most intuitive out there, but you can get to the search page with just a couple clicks. As long as you have an applicant’s real name (which...I thought it was standard operating procedure to ask prospective employees for government-issued ID and a social security number once they’d progressed far enough in their candidacy, so I’m not sure I understand what’s going on with this “falsified background” claim?), you can check to see if they’re on the list. This only applies to the CO list, of course - I have no experience checking those in other states - but since registered offenders are required to provide up-to-addresses, a job applicant looking for work in Colorado would be playing a dangerous game with various law enforcement and related agencies if the information they provided didn’t match up.

You can also run someone’s name through the Bureau of Prisons inmate search to see if they’ve ever served time in a federal facility. I’m not entirely sure if anything equivalent exists on a state/county level, but some counties do publish their criminal court case histories online, so you can see if the person’s gotten into a legal snafu of some sort in their/your county of residence. Granted, these records don’t usually state what the person was specifically charged with, so you often won’t know whether they decided to go to court over a speeding ticket or whether they committed bodily harm, but it is a starting place for launching a more in-depth investigation, if it seems warranted.

Tl;dr: checking to see if someone’s on the sex offender registry in Colorado is neither costly nor time-consuming and would’ve been an especially smart thing for the CMC (and most, if not all, employers here) to do here.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by ekalina »

I'm also unhappy with the way CMC has handled this. Many good points have already been made by Susan, DeTour, and others and I won't repeat those. But I do want to mention some issues I have with the CMC's acknowledgement email that they sent out ten days ago.

>> We previously shared with you the news that the Colorado Mountain Club and several of our employees were among victims of a criminal predator, who was arrested earlier this year and is facing multiple charges of placing hidden cameras in our office and throughout the Denver Metro area and violating individual privacy.

Being a new member, I didn't know anything about this issue. When I read the phrase "placing hidden cameras in our office" and "violating individual privacy," it sounded like Chiang could have been caught recording sensitive conversations without the consent of the participants. I should have assumed the worst, but my mind didn't interpret "office" to mean restrooms and "violating individual privacy" to mean "making pornographic images and videos of his coworkers."

The first step to correcting a (long history of serious) mistakes is to fully acknowledge the damage that has been done. I feel like CMC selected language that minimized the seriousness of the offenses, perhaps hoping that people who weren't in the know wouldn't look into it further.

>> The perpetrator, now charged with several criminal offenses, is a former employee who was terminated in November 2019 after our investigation substantiated a complaint of bullying and harassment against a co-worker. At that time, there were no indications that any criminal behavior had taken place or that there were any safety concerns from our staff.

Not characterizing bullying and harassment as "safety concerns" is a big red flag to me. How can you say that there were no safety concerns when multiple reports of harassment had been made for years? Reports of sexual harassment should always be treated as a safety concern, and sexual harassment can escalate into criminal behavior (or, in this case, indicate ongoing criminal behavior).

The response is also notable for the things it doesn't say. It doesn't acknowledge that there were repeated warning signs that Chiang was a dangerous employee. It doesn't admit that he was a registered sex offender at the time of his hire, or that the organization neglected to take basic steps (like running a background check or referencing the sex offender registry) that would have kept their staff safe. And, most alarmingly, it doesn't commit to doing anything differently in the future.

I think, overall, that CMC's statement comes across as "a bad thing happened that we were powerless to prevent. Nothing could have been done to stop it, but we're doing everything we can after the fact." I feel this is disingenuous, or at the very least, lacking in self reflection. It also leaves me worried that, in the absence of procedural and cultural change, an incident of a similar nature could happen again in the future.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by Urban Snowshoer »

cottonmountaineering wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 12:40 pm thanks for sharing, whenever something high profile happens like this, its usually due to a systemic problem with the organization.

i'd encourage people to reflect if they want to give their time and monetary support to this organization given a) they couldnt be bothered to perform a background check or b) decided to hire a sex offender anyways and c) ignored multiple incidents/red flags
I've been a member for awhile and taken a few of their schools and I'm certainly reconsidering my support at this point--the organization has a good mission both in conservation and in teaching people how to be safe outside but what happened here is appalling and indefensible.

When I have gone on trips in the past, I have occasionally heard bits and pieces from people more plugged into the club's organizational management and politics--the bottom line is that the club has clearly had issues for awhile but I wasn't aware it was this bad.
Last edited by Urban Snowshoer on Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:59 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Mountain Club Trouble

Post by Candace66 »

Wow. I don't live in CO and this is the first I have heard of all this. :shock:

Urban Snowshoer mentioned rumors about the Club's "organizational management and politics." I'm not surprised to hear that. A few years ago I tried to get access to the Club archives, namely old summit registers and/or trip leader reports. I was given various excuses (e.g. that the records were too disorganized), or simply ignored. I finally gave up. I couldn't have imagined the situation was THIS toxic.

In hindsight, maybe a good thing I never got a chance to visit there and look at those records...I might have used the restroom and ended up in this creep's video collection. :wft:
Buckie06 wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 12:17 pm Response from the CMC, sounds like they took action to get help for the staff and make the building safe.
[long snip]
Yes, the CMC says they did all kinds of things, but... From the Outside Magazine article (link in OP): "However, the three former employees claim that those tasks were either never completed or were not completed in a timely enough manner to make them feel safe to return."
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