Abuse agency chief quits, blaming D. A. - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Abuse agency chief quits, blaming D. A.

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December 19, 2006

Albany - Open Arms Executive Director Beth McKenzie is resigning, she says, to protect the agency from a vengeful District Attorney. McKenzie and D. A. Ken Hodges have been feuding for months, and now, McKenzie says Hodges has threatened to prosecute her, even though she's not committed a crime.

McKenzie says the last straw came October 9th while she was giving a deposition in a civil lawsuit. Even though the suit has nothing to do with the District Attorney's office, McKenzie told the FBI in a letter that Hodges provided eight pages of questions for the opposing lawyer to ask her.

Her lawyer, T. Gamble, won't disclose his confidential conversation with that opposing lawyer, but he does say, "I have no reason to question the validity or accuracy of that letter."

McKenzie wrote that November 6th letter to the FBI and states: "I am writing this letter to document the threat from Ken Hodges to prosecute me no matter what it takes. I have committed no crime."

The letter goes on to state: "Ken Hodges is abusing his power as District Attorney in this community."

Gamble says Hodges has worked behind the scenes for months to get rid of McKenzie. "Testimony by people who've been deposed already indicating Mr. Hodges circulated a letter asking that she be removed, that he wrote the letter, he's primarily the person responsible for sending that to Opens Arms Board of Directors."

And while he stopped short of saying McKenzie plans to sue Hodges, he said: "Those responsible for the problems that Open Arms and Beth McKenzie have suffered will be held accountable. I said that at the onset. I quoted from the Bible about the gnashing of teeth. That still holds true."

McKenzie says she resigned to protect Open Arms. Her letter of resignation is dated December 12th. But the board has not yet voted to accept it.

Ken Hodges is out of town, but told us by phone that he's not seen the FBI letter. He said he did not write eight pages of questions to be asked of Beth McKenzie, but he said he did talk with that lawyer's office about areas of inquiry for McKenzie.

Hodges denies that he's ever threatened to prosecute McKenzie.

Open Arms, the agency McKenzie oversees, is a non-profit organization that works with child abuse victims. The agency oversees the Bridge, which is a shelter for child abuse victims.

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