Professors of the University of Washington attempted to persuade
Barry Scheck, the founder of the Innocence Project, to come to
Seattle to speak. He agreed, but only if the professors would consider
starting a similar project on the west coast. The result was The Innocence Project Northwest, a
group of volunteer University of Washington law students,
investigators and Seattle lawyers. This group attacked the
Wenatchee fiasco and were largely responsible for the freeing of many of the
unjustly convicted. 1
1997 was a year of relative
inactivity. However, the unfolding of the Wenatchee debacle went into
high gear in early 1998:
1998-FEB: Vicki Wallen, head of the Washington State Office of
Family and Children's Ombudsman issued a statement stating that Detective Perez' dual
role as senior investigator and foster parent was "detrimental to the girls' best
interest...and clearly affected perceptions of the girls' credibility."
1998-FEB: Two reporters, Mike Barber and Andrew Schneider, culminated a
6 month investigation by writing a series of 5 major articles in the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. They had interviewed 237 people and reviewed over 23,000
documents. They uncovered additional irregularities in the Wenatchee investigation. Once
this series was published, the full range of the horrors at Wenatchee became public
1998-MAR-5: Janet Reno, U.S. Attorney General announced that she was
reviewing her earlier decision to not conduct a federal investigation.
1998-MAR-9: Washington State ACLU sent a letter to Department
of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary Lyle Quasim, asking that they
investigate its treatment of children in state custody. They asked that the adoption of 17
children be terminated. Kathleen Taylor, ACLU Executive Director wrote:
"Given the wide-ranging violations of basic fairness in the
conduct of the Wenatchee investigations, we are concerned that parental
rights may have been terminated by the state based on coerced
confessions, false information or inadequate facts."
1998-MAR: From MAR-11 to 19, the State Court of Appeals had a hearing
into the interviewing techniques used in Wenatchee. The court needed the information in
order to rule on an appeal by Harold and Idella Everett. The hearing uncovered another
series of horrors involving improper interview techniques, suppression of medical
evidence that would prove that M.E. had never been sexually abused, etc.
1998-MAR-18: Juana Vasquex was awarded $1.57 million. She had been
fired from the post of CWS supervisor after having supported Paul Glassen's handling
of A.R.'s recantation.
1998-MAR-18: Gary Locke, Governor of Washington State augmented the
staff of the Washington StateOffice of Family and Children's Ombudsman
by four investigators, to handle the study of state governmental activities in the
Wenatchee area. Unfortunately, their activities are limited by state legislation. They can
only review the actions of state social workers, and they are only permitted to issue
recommendations for action. He also asked the DSHS to take no more adoption actions.
1998-APR-6: Pastor Robert Roberson, Connie Roberson, and others have
brought a civil lawsuit asking for about $100 million in damages against Detective against
Perez and various city, state and county officials, agencies, and contracting therapists.
Selection of the jury started on APR-6. They lost the lawsuit.
1998-OCT-16: The Robertsons and other plaintiffs filed a motion seeking
a new civil trial. On NOV-17, their motion was denied.
1999: Two plaintiffs settled their complaints with the city out of
1999-AUG-30: The Wenatchee World newspaper announced that
Paul Glassen, the social worker who fled to Canada, had received a letter
from the city which cleared him of any criminal activity. The letter was
part of the settlement between himself and the city that also included
$295,000 and $2,500 in mediation costs.
1999-OCT-13: Paul Glassen was scheduled to go to trial against the
state of Washington on this date.
End of 1999 status report:
All of the Wenatchee "sex-ring"
convictions which have been reviewed by higher courts have been
On DEC-29, the State of Washington agreed to pay $850,000 to
Pastor Robert Robertson and several others who had been accused with
Doris Green rejected a plea bargain in November. By DEC-10, the
prosecution decided to not retry her.
Henry Cunningham was released after the Court of Appeals
overturned his conviction. He had been represented at his first
trial by a public defender who never investigated his case.
Cunningham is suing the city of Wenatchee and the State for $10
The Washington Court of Appeals ruled that Manuel Hidalgo
Rodriguez will have a new trial.
A number of people have entered an Alford plea after having been
convicted. Cherie Town became the fifth person convicted of a
Wenatchee sex abuse case to enter an Alford plea while in prison.
She was released from prison on DEC-2.
Detective Perez is no longer a police officer. He was excused
from testifying in a civil rights lawsuit against the state of
Washington in 1999-OCT. "A psychologist testified that
Perez suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress related to
the case and could have a mental breakdown on the witness stand."
4In mid-2000, he was injured during a
horseback riding accident.
The state Office of Children and Family's Ombudsman,
reviewed the state's role in the investigations and recommended that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
establish conflict-of-interest rules for foster care placement.
This had not been done, as of DEC-18.
2000-JAN-14: "M.E." has been returned to her
family. She is now 17 years of age. She had spent time in nearly a
dozen foster homes, hospitals, and treatment centers. (One source says
20). It is hard to believe, but the state placed her back in Perez's
home for a weekend in 1999-OCT. M.E.'s oldest sibling, "Richard,
19, who always insisted on his parents' innocence, grew to maturity
while they were in prison, after being adopted out to a Wisconsin
family." Another sibling, "Donna lives in a Spokane
mental health treatment center." Another sibling "now
14, was adopted in the Wenatchee area, while his twin ran away from a
foster home last November and has yet to be located."
M.E. will likely "be a witness in civil lawsuits
filed against Perez, the city of Wenatchee and the state over the
handling of the investigations."
2000-MAY-1: Only five individuals remain in prison: Leo
Catchaway, Ralph Gausvik, Sid Holt, Michael Rose, and Meredith Town. Four
of them have appeals pending. The city of Wenatchee's liability
insurance premium has more than doubled. Some property owners are
fighting annexation into the city because they fear a massive payments
will be needed to pay legal settlements.
2000-AUG-3: Sarah Doggett (referred to as S.D. above) is now
21 years of age and has initiated a lawsuit against Bob Perez. The
trial was originally scheduled for 2000-AUG but has been postponed
several months because of injuries that Perez suffered in a horseback
2000-AUG-13: Randall Reed, who spent five years in prison,
claims that he was wrongfully convicted. He is suing the city of
Wenatchee and the state for $2 million.
2000-DEC-7: Mike Rose, the last remaining Wenatchee alleged sex ring
prisoner was released from prison. He has always maintained his
2000-DEC-20: Bob Devereaux's civil-rights lawsuit will again
be heard by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Harold and
Idella Everett have had their parental rights restored for four of
their five children.
End of 2000 status report: 43 people were arrested. 18
were incarcerated. All have been released.
2001-FEB-25: Sarah Marie Doggett, now 22, settled a lawsuit
out of court against the city of Wenatchee and the state of
Washington. She was awarded $52,500. The city and the state admitted
no wrongdoing in the settlement. She claimed that a state CPS worker
forcibly removed her from a California home in 1995-JAN without a
proper court order, and flew her back to Wenatchee. She was tied to a
gurney and transpolrted to a mental hospital in Idaho. She was heavily
drugged and pressured to accuse her parents of sexually abuse. State
and city officials deny the accusations. Her parents, Mark and Carol
Doggett filed a civil rights claim in June.
2001-MAY-18: Rev. "Roby" Robertson sued the county
because of inadequate protection provided to him while he was in jail.
He stated that he was beaten and humiliated by a jail employee and by
other inmates when he was incarcerated for eight months, waiting for
his trial. Details of the settlement were not disclosed. His separate
lawsuit against the city and county for negligent investigation is
scheduled for July.
2001-JUL-5: Pentecostal minister Roby Roberson and his wife
Connie; Honnah Sims, a former Sunday-school teacher at Roberson's East
Wenatchee church; and parishioner Donna Rodriguez have launched a lawsuit
against the City of Wenatchee, former police Detective Robert Perez,
former Douglas County Police Chief Ken Badgley, Douglas County Sheriff Dan
LaRoche; and county detectives Robbin Wagg and Dave Helvey. Pretrial
motions began on JUL-5. Their case was initially rejected by the court. In
late 2002, the case was reinstated.
2001-JUL-31: Jury finds city and county negligent: A jury found
the city of Wenatchee and Douglas County negligent in their treatment of
Honnah and Johathan Sims, another couple and two other plaintiffs. They
recommended a civil award of $3 million to the Sims.
Last fall, the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld a state
Court of Appeals decision that law-enforcement agencies could be held
financially liable for faulty child-abuse investigations.
2001-SEP-23: It has been two years since multiple charges of
child rape and molestation were dropped against Doris Green, and her
parental rights were restored. But her children are still not with her.
Her children, aged 19, 18, 16, and 12 have now filed a claim against Chelan
County, the city of Wenatchee and the state Department of Children and
Family Services. A lawsuit is expected to follow. They were removed from
their mother's home on 1994-SEP-15. They have been warehoused in an
average of four different foster homes each. 5
2002-OCT-31: On Halloween, a judge reinstated
the lawsuit brought in 2001-JUL which charged negligent investigation into
the 1994-5 child sex-ring cases. The lawsuit had been filed by "Roby" and
Connie Robertson, Honnah and Jonathan Sims, and Donna Rodriguez. Spokane
County Superior Court Judge Michael E. Donohue ruled that the city's
defense lawyers had misled the plaintiffs and the court by wrongly
withholding personnel files of former Wenatchee police sex-crimes
investigator Bob Perez in pretrial discovery. Auburn attorney Robert Van
Siclen told the court that reports in the files "made reference to the
fact that ... Detective Perez was under a serious mental disability at the
time and prior to the time he started his investigation of my client
Pastor Roberson." Judge Donohue ruled that the lawyers for the
city had "blindsided and misled the plaintiffs" and also the court.
He said that Wenatchee was liable for all legal fees incurred by the
plaintiffs in pursuing the case. 6,7
There are allegations that Parez was suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder at the time. Van Siclen said after the
hearing: "These are smoking gun documents that are clearly material to
our presentation of the cases in court. We were sandbagged." The city
is considering appealing the judge's decision.
2003-JAN-9: The Wenatchee World newspaper estimates that "Penalties
against the city for withholding evidence in the suit and a related civil
action would top $733,000. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael
Donohue granted the new trial in a suit brought by Pastor Robert 'Roby'
Roberson...In the first trial...in 1998... a jury found defendants had not
violated the civil rights of Roberson and other plaintiffs." The
city's insurance policy is capped at two million dollars. Since the city
still has their own legal bills to pay, part of any future award might
have to come out of the city's own coffers. 8
2003-OCT-3: Appeals court dismisses lawsuit: The $10 million
lawsuit initiated by Henry Cunningham in the year 2000 was dismissed.
Perez claimed that, as a police officer, he had qualified immunity from
being sued. 9
Summary of cases, as of 2003-OCT:
2003-OCT-3: The Wenatchee World summarized the current status of
those involved in the 1994-95 investigations into sex rings in the city:
43 arrests of people living in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee - many of
them developmentally disabled, illiterate and/or poor
26 felony convictions.
18 people have had their convictions overturned on appeal or accepted
plea bargains to lesser charges while their cases were on appeal.
4 served out their sentences and were released.
3 received suspended sentences.
1 is still in prison.
Stephen Maher, "Tipping the Wenatchee scales," Wenatchee