Former foster parent had criminal background

Darren Durham was convicted of misdemeanor harassment and marijuana in 1995

Darren Durham and Dawnlye Durham/White/Kaestner in their booking photos. (WCSO)

FOREST GROVE, Ore. (KOIN) — Former foster parents Darren Durham and Dawnyle Kaestner are in the Washington County Jail facing several drug and child abuse charges.

They face felony charges involving their 4 adopted children. They allegedly gave one child Percocet and withheld adequate medical care from another. Kaestner is also being charged with possession of meth.

“Ten months ago or so things started spiraling,” neighbor Rebecca Cohoon said. “I’m like OK, what’s going on.”

The couple were foster parents for 12 years even though one of them had an arrest record. KOIN 6 News found out Durham had a few convictions in his past.

Durham was convinced of misdemeanor marijuana possession in 1995. He was also convicted of harassment. That was 6 years before he successfully applied to DHS and was accepted as a certified foster parent.

“I knew it was drugs. It had to be from the behavior that mom was showing,” Cohoon said. “And then she came and she told me that she had been doing drugs.”

Police say Durham and Kaestner cared for about 50 children between 2001 and 2013, before they lost their certification from DHS. Now police are looking for information about other children who may have been abused by this couple.

“We’re casting a wide net on this and hoping we don’t find any other victims,” Sgt. Bob Ray with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said. “But we need to look.”

The Department of Human Services declined to be interviewed due to privacy reasons, but provided information about their screening process, including disqualifying criminal convictions.

Durham’s convictions were misdemeanors not involving violence against a child, so his application was eligible for consideration — but still needed approval of the child welfare director.

Neighbors said Durham and Kaestner weren’t always bad parents.

“The kids didn’t look like they were mistreated in any way, like bruises or anything like that you know,” Donnie Long said.

 

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