The Witch Hunt of Wenatchee, Washington

There are many enduring stories from the United State's colonial days. Among those that everyone knows something about include the first Thanksgiving, Paul Revere's ride, and the Salem Witch trials.

In 1692, accusations from several girls resulted in the conviction and hanging of 19 men and women before other people were able to end the madness and pardon others awaiting execution.

In the centuries since then, fears of sorcery have abated, but other fears manage to wiggle into society. In World War II, Japanese Americans were removed from their homes and forced into camps out of fear that they were spying for Japan. The fact that many had children or other relatives fighting against Japan seemed to carry little weight. In the cold war that followed, Joseph McCarthy found communist sympathizers hiding under every rock.

Today, TV news has found that child abuse makes good press and state's Child Protective Services have found profit in pursuing allegations of child abuse, despite most allegations being ruled unfounded. Day Care centers have been common targets, with mild concerns exploding into national news. However, there is one event that has the most parallels with the Salem Witch trials. It involves more people, lasted longer than Salem, is just as incredible, and yet has not achieved the common knowledge that previous witch hunts have garnered.

This page is located among pages on DCYF, New Hampshire's Child Protective Services. If you came here looking for Wenatchee information, you won't find much new. If you came here from our DCYF pages and are still skeptical that DCYF can be as bad as claimed, read some of the links below and be astounded at what a system run amuck can do.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Thomas Jefferson

In what history must record as the Witch Hunt of Wenatchee, Washington, 43 people were charged with 27,726 counts of child sex abuse. One would think that alone should make people incredulous. Indeed, several people did stand up and said this was madness, but it wasn't until the Seattle Post-Intelligencer decided it should pay attention to the case that the scale of abuse of individual rights became widely known. The Power to Harm is the name of a series on Wenatchee, a situation where injustice has not yet been completely rooted out.

The Salem Witch Museum has T-shirts that say:

Fear + Trigger = Scapegoat
At Wenatchee, the names stand for:

At Salem, events began with a two cousins and a frustrated doctor. At Wenatchee, events began with children and reports triggered by their detective foster father, Bob Perez. Eventually adults in both cases were begging children for more names.

At Salem, the judge sent the jury back for a better verdict. At Wenatchee,

Judge T.W. "Chip" Small improperly told friends at a Rotary Club luncheon about the sex trials over which he was presiding. Renee Kimball, who was at the table, said, " . . . He felt all defendants were guilty and that because of other convictions or guilty pleas in other cases, that the investigating agency could not be wrong . . . " [Excerpted from Power to Harm ]

At Salem some people were steadfast in their defense of the accused. At Wenatchee,

Through her long, brave battle with brain cancer, Juana Vasquez feared only that good people would remain silent to injustice after she was gone. Vasquez, 48, a former state social worker, won acclaim for integrity after she questioned the validity of the child sex abuse investigations that swept across Wenatchee in 1994, even though it cost her a job. [Excerpted from Post Intelligencer obituary ]

At Salem, it took a different court to bring the madness under control, At Wenatchee, a Justice Dept. review stopped nothing:

On Feb. 2, 1996, [US Attorney General Janet] Reno wrote to the governor and said, "Based on a thorough review of the available material ... these complaints do not present evidence of prosecutable violations of federal civil rights law." [Excerpted from Power to Harm]

but a county judicial review did:

The first comprehensive judicial review of the Wenatchee sex-abuse investigations has ended with harsh criticism for police, state social workers, therapists and the main accusers.

Whitman County Superior Court Judge Wallis Friel did not mince words in a 64-page report on the controversial cases he issued yesterday. In it, he concluded that Harold and Idella Everett probably would not be found guilty if tried again on more then 6,000 charges of child rape and molestation. [Excerpted from Power to Harm]

Of course, there are differences. At Salem:

The witch trials era lasted less than a year. The first arrests were made on March 1, 1692 and the final hanging day was September 22, 1692. The Court of Oyer and Terminer was dissolved in October of 1692. [Excerpted from a Salem Witch Museum page]

In Wenatchee, the investigations began in 1994. In 1998, 17 people were still in jail. I thought the last was finally released at the end of 2000, but apparently one is still there in early 2003.

There are many victims of Wenatchee. Even among the people accused and found innocent, scars will last the rest of their lives. People who were once deeply involved with children are fearful of being left alone with a child. Melinda Everett, one of Perez's foster children and source of many of the allegations, has testified against Perez, has been returned to his care as a foster child , ran away from another foster family back to her parents who refused to turn her back over to the system.

Civil trials continue as victims try to obtain some compensation for their ruined families. In the end, the only abuse came from CPS and the police, and they were the least affected.

Early in 2003, a judge fined the city of Wenatchee over $700,000 and ordered a couple of new trials because the city didn't turn over some pertinent personel records about Detective Perez.

Other links of interest:

Contact Ric Werme or return to his home page.

Last updated 2011 January 7.