No retrial for pair in Wenatchee case

'Now it's our turn,' couple says after court's decision

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 19, 2000

WENATCHEE -- Mark and Carol Doggett, key figures in the Wenatchee child sex-ring investigations, will not face a new trial on charges they raped their children.

Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen said his office won't retry the couple, who were released from jail in 1998.

The decision came six weeks after the state Supreme Court declined to review prosecutors' contentions about errors when the Doggetts' 1995 convictions were thrown out.

Riesen said the court ruling meant prosecutors wouldn't be able to enter some evidence.

"There have been recantations by the kids as well," Riesen said. The Doggetts, who now live in Bothell, said they aren't surprised by the news.

"Actually, we expected this after we were first arrested," Carol Doggett said. "This is far from over. That was only the top of the inning. Now it's our turn."

Since their 1998 release from prison, the Doggetts have been reunited with four of their five children and are working at being reunited with the fifth, who remains in foster care in the Wenatchee area.

Mark Doggett, 43, works as a warehouseman, and Carol, 41, is employed as a computer draftsman.

The couple were arrested in late 1994 by Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez on 1,000 counts each of child rape.

They were found guilty of first-degree child rape and complicity to commit first-degree child molestation. The alleged victim was their 9-year-old daughter. They were acquitted on charges they raped a son and two other daughters.

Each was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison.

Wenatchee made world headlines in 1994 and 1995 when police and state social workers undertook what was then called the nation's most extensive child sex-abuse investigation.

By the time it was done, at least 60 adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex-abuse involving 43 children. Many of the accused were poor or developmentally disabled.

In February 1998, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published "The Power to Harm," a series of articles that documented overzealous -- even abusive -- actions by Perez and social service caseworkers, civil rights violations by judges and prosecutors as well as sloppy work by public defenders.

Since then, many of the convicted have been freed by higher courts, largely through the work of The Innocence Project, a group of volunteer lawyers.

The Doggett's convictions were overturned by the state Court of Appeals, which found the state failed to show their daughter told the truth about sex abuse. The Doggetts contend Perez bullied their children into making accusations.

The court also said the couple should have been able to call an expert witness on false-memory syndrome. The appeals court also questioned whether coercive behavior by authorities had left the girl incapable of testifying accurately.

"What people don't seem to understand is how CPS (Child Protective Services) and police operate, secluding the children away so nobody can talk to them," Carol Doggett said yesterday. "The stories our kids are telling are really gut-wrenching . . .," she said.


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