nwnews-now : local news in your e-mail box as it happens

Front Page

Former Historical Society president alleges harassment over old photos

harassment alleged by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--Anti-harassment orders were issued on May 24 against the Woodinville Historical Society president and a society member at the request of the group's former president amid allegations of assault and failure to return more than 200 historical photos.
   Tonya St. Berg, former president of the Woodinville Historical Society, alleged that current president Gladys Berry had harassed her over the phone and that member Merwin Cederblom had assaulted her.
   Berry and Cederblom have denied St. Berg's allegations, but signed the orders which direct them to not contact St. Berg at her home or workplace.
   "We didn't fight the court order; it doesn't make any difference to us if we talk to her or not," Berry said.
   Cederblom was out of town and unavailable for comment.
   Berry said she and St. Berg have had phone conversations regarding the more than 200 Historical Society pictures St. Berg currently possesses for a project the society charged her to complete.
   Berry said the alleged assault was no more than Cederblom delivering a letter approved by the society's executive board to St. Berg asking her to return the photos.
   "The historical society's pictures and artifacts belong under the control of the executive board," said Berry, who said the board decided in January to have St. Berg return the photos. Since that time, St. Berg has only transferred copies of some of them.
   St. Berg said she didn't know the society wanted the photos back.
   "I was never, ever informed that they wanted the photographs back," she said. St. Berg said she didn't know or recognize Cederblom when he approached her and she was shaken up by his mannerisms and then by his alleged attempts to restrain her.
   "He handed me a document, but I was too shaken up to read it, so I handed it back to him," she said.
   After investigating St. Berg's complaint, police did not press charges against Cederblom.
   St. Berg said Berry on the telephone was "demanding and insistent, got louder and louder, angrier and angrier." She said she finally gave the phone to her husband.
   "I felt I had been harassed, and it got to the point where I didn't want to answer the phone any more," said St. Berg. "Now I can because of the (anti-harassment) order."
   The order prevents any further attempts by Berry or Cederblom to recover the photographs, and a meeting between St. Berg and the Historical Society would require the use of a speaker phone.
   St. Berg says she supports a meeting to clear everything up and return the photos, as she says she no longer has an interest in keeping them.
   "The photos don't belong to the Historical Society and they don't belong to me: They belong to the public," St. Berg said.
   Berry disagrees and says the photos are the property of the Historical Society, which checks them out to people and has the authority to sell them.
   "I hope whoever acquires them next continues to maintain them and store them properly so the next generation and future generations can enjoy them," St. Berg said.