The Wenatchee "sex rings"
Part 2: Growing opposition to the charges
Voices opposed to the witch hunt:
By late 1995, Washington State Governor Lowry (D) and Speaker of the House of
Representatives Clyde Ballard Ballard (R-East Wenatchee) had both called for a federal
review of apparent abuses in Wenatchee. Despite critical reviews by CBS, CNN, NBC
Dateline, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, prosecutions
The Justice Committee of San Diego had been organized by people who were
concerned about the Wenatchee problem. They called for a national boycott of Washington
State's principle product: apples. They approached the Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce to
join others in calling for a federal review of the situation. The Chamber President,
Gil Sparks, was quoted in the Wenatchee World as responding,
"It's a farce and economic blackmail. It's obvious to me the
people who put this letter together did it without having any of the real
facts involved with this case."
The Justice Committee issued a press release on 1995-NOV-27 which reads, in part:
"According to Carol Hopkins, Justice Committee spokesperson,
the purpose of the boycott is to bring to the attention of citizens,
civic groups and officials in Wenatchee and state officials in the State
of Washington, the national outrage over the false prosecutions and the
civil rights abuses suffered by both children and adults as a result of
the child abuse investigations and prosecutions which began last year
and continue unabated...Despite a call by Washington Governor Mike Lowry
and House Speaker Clyde Ballard for a U.S. Justice Department
investigation of the Wenatchee prosecutions, local police and
prosecutors have persisted in pressing these outrageous cases."
Local media outlets supported the police and child protective services.
However, Tom Grant, a TV news reporter for KREM in Spokane, WA repeatedly
exposed the fiasco. Two investigative reporters from the Post-Intelligencer in
Seattle, WA later wrote a series: "The Power to Harm."
Finally, the University of Washington Law School formed the
Innocence Project Northwest, "which has succeeded in obtaining the
release of every adult victim of the false prosecutions." 5
The American Civil Liberties Association of Washington studied the Wenatchee
situation and issued a press release on 1997-OCT-30. They said in part:
"The Wenatchee child sexual abuse cases are unprecedented in our state's
history in the number of children who were removed from their homes and had their families
disrupted. The ACLU's 23-page report examines eight areas of concern in the government's
handling of investigations in the Wenatchee cases and recommends minimum safeguards to
remedy problems that arose in the investigations. The recommendations address:
||involuntary confinement of children in out-of-state mental hospitals;
||the practice of allowing law enforcement officers responsible for child abuse
investigations to serve as foster parents for children involved in the investigations;
||law enforcement intervention in state Department of Social and Health Services
decisions on foster care placement and therapy for foster children;
||destruction of records in child abuse investigations;
||lack of minimum standards for documenting child witness interviews in child sexual
||lack of minimum standards for conducting child witness interviews in child sexual
||lack of clarity of roles of police and Child Protective Service caseworkers in child
sexual abuse cases; and
||the need for additional mechanisms to ensure quality control and accountability in
child abuse investigations."
The report was presented to Vickie Wallen, Director of the state Office of the
Family and Children's Ombudsman.
Requests for Federal Investigations
On 1995-OCT-3, Governor Mike Lowry asked Attorney General Janet Reno to
undertake a federal investigation of the Wenatchee problem. His request
IN 1998, John H. Hill, Director, Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel and
Kathryn Lyon, author of the Wenatchee Report1 prepared a "Complaint
and Request for Federal Investigation" to the U.S. Department of Justice and
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was presented along with a "Request
for U.S. Congressional Hearings" into the Wenatchee situation. 2
Attorney General Janet Reno promised to examine the evidence on
Kathryn Lyon said:
"I'm excited because this is in the
national public eye again, where it should be because it's not just a
Wenatchee problem...But I'm also aware of the fact that Janet Reno was
been a zealous prosecutor in some of the most outrageous criminal
Several of Reno's more sensational child sex-abuse
cases, which destroyed families and careers, have been overturned by the
Additional calls for an investigation were made in mid-1998 by the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Justice Committee, and the National
Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Calls have also been made by
individuals: Arthur Miller, author of "The Crucible;"
Glenn Stevens, a prosecutor in the notorious McMartin Preschool case;
William Styron, author of "Sophie's Choice;" Mike Wallace
of CBS Television, and the late Sonny Bono (R-CA).
On 1998-JUL-18, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that she would
stonewall the requests for an investigation.
Summary of Cases as of 2000-AUG:
According to Hill and Lyon, between 1994 and 1996:
||43 people, (23 women; 20 men) were charged with 29, 726 counts of child sexual abuse.
||The number of alleged victims is 60 children; 17 have been put up for
||6 adults were convicted after a trial.
||4 were acquitted after a trial.
||16 pled guilty, mostly under "Alford pleas."
||6 pled guilty to misdemeanors after their charges were greatly
||10 cases were dismissed. 2
In 1998-MAY, 16 adults remained in prison. As of 2000-AUG-13:
all of those convicted have...been released." According to the Wenatchee
World newspaper: "The scope of the Wenatchee wrongful
convictions is unprecedented in Washington and perhaps in the country."
Carol L. Hopkins, "Justice Committee calls for Apple Boycott,"
Justice Committee of San Diego, 1995-NOV-27, at: http://members.aa.net/
Information about the requests for Federal investigations is at: http://www.ags.uci.edu/
"The Aftermath" (Updates to Ref. 8), Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, 1998-FEB at: http://www.seattle-pi.com/
- Stephen Maher, "Tipping the Wenatchee scales," Wenatchee
Paul Craig Roberts, "Prosecutorial Abuse: The Wenatchee Witch Hunt
Unravels Further," at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on
Last update: 2007-DEC-27
Author: B.A. Robinson