Review Clears YMCA Couple of Any Violation of Ethics

Times Staff Writer

A review has concluded that the couple who worked as managers of the Santa Ana YMCA violated no ethical standards by accepting money from mentally disabled clients, YMCA officials said Friday.

The committee that reviewed allegations of impropriety has recommended the YMCA adopt several policies to avoid "future such occurrences," officials said.

William Orrick, manager of the Santa Ana YMCA branch, and his wife, Irene, director of the YMCA hotel, will be allowed to resume duties immediately, said Allan Shaffer, president of the YMCA of Orange County.

The couple had been suspended with pay from their jobs last Thursday pending the outcome of the review.

The Orricks were out of town and could not be reached for comment.

"We believe Bill and Irene Orrick acted out of compassion toward their clients," Shaffer said. "However, we must avoid even a hint of (impropriety) regarding our private contributions which support our various youth and handicapped programs."

The investigation of the Orricks centered on whether they acted improperly by accepting thousands of dollars in donations from four mentally disabled men referred to their care by county mental health authorities.

Questions about the donations were raised by YMCA officials and county authorities several weeks ago when it was learned that Irene Orrick managed the financial affairs of one of the men.

YMCA officials were also probing whether it was a conflict of interest for the Orricks to refer YMCA hotel clients to two Santa Ana rooming houses they own.

Shaffer said the review committee interviewed the Orricks, residents of the Santa Ana rooming houses and representatives of the Mental Health Assn., a private group that runs a program for homeless mentally ill in the Santa Ana YMCA, and concluded the couple engaged in no wrongdoing.

"We talked to many tenants at the rooming houses and they indicated they were very grateful for the opportunity to stay there and for the kindnesses extended by Mrs. Orrick," Shaffer said.

Shaffer said donations given by hotel clients to the YMCA through the Orricks will be returned.

One of the donations was a $5,000 disability check given by Walter Titch, whose financial affairs were managed by Irene Orrick. The other large donation was from George Cleveland Jr., who had given the YMCA about $9,000 over a 2-year period, Shaffer said.

Titch, a convicted burglar, is undergoing psychiatric evaluation at the California Institution for Men at Chino. Cleveland is in a nursing home.

Shaffer said the two men were not interviewed by the committee because of their declining physical health. But the men have stated publicly that they willingly donated the money and were not coerced, Shaffer said.

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