Was Sheriff’s Wife ‘Coerced’ by County Officials?
The situation involving Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher has become very muddled, and new evidence might suggest his estranged wife was prodded by county officials?
According to a letter or press release from Hatcher's defense team Johnson and Orr, Mrs. Hatcher sent a letter to Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller saying that the 2017 choking allegation against the Sheriff was not true, and that she was pressured by County officials to say it was so.
The release also claims vital pieces of evidence were not collected by the Washington State Patrol for this investigation before the 4th Degree Domestic Abuse charge was filed. It also says witnesses have also not been interviewed and the full investigative process has not been followed.
Included in the release is an email from Mrs. Hatcher to Prosecutor Miller dated October 3rd, in which the following statement is made regarding her reportedly not wanting to press charges: (part of the email)
"...Andy, when you called me on the 18th with your questions, I did not hesitate to tell you I did not want to discuss or share anything....I had also said I did not ask for any of this, I did not contact anyone and was not comfortable telling you anything...when you told me that you could subpoena me and I would be forced to answer or I could answer your questions then,. because you really did not want to have to subpoena me."
Her email went on to say:
"This not only intimidated me but scared the crap out of me. After talking with my parents last week, I understand I did not have to talk to you and I did have the option to reject your questions."
The email refers to September 18th, the day the protection order was granted by a Benton County Superior Court Judge. Hatcher goes on in the email to say her divorce attorney urged her to take the order. She claims Prosecutor Miller arranged for the order through that attorney. She also makes claims she believes she may be being used "or pushed into making this report to support someone's personal vendetta against Jerry." (Hatcher)
She mentions due to an accident and medical problems, she has suffered physical and and emotional trauma including nightmares, and other psychological issues that she thinks could have affected the December 2017 incident. It has been widely reported, allegations. that Sheriff Hatcher choked her during a domestic argument. This email she sent seems to acknowledge there are issues, but refutes the abuse and tampering claims being made. She mentions sustaining some abuse in a previous marriage, but seems to be exonerating the Sheriff in this situation.
The release is shown below: A link to the release containing her email is included below as well
Richland, WA, October 10, 2019: Despite false allegations and a politically motivated investigation and prosecution, Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher remains committed to his family and the people of people of Benton County, whom he has the privilege to serve.
After experiencing marital problems, Sheriff Hatcher and his wife began divorce proceedings. Mrs. Hatcher filed divorce proceedings without any allegations of physical harm or any request for an order preventing Sheriff Hatcher from contacting her while the divorce proceeded. The divorce was sad but not contentious and both Sheriff and Mrs. Hatcher wanted the divorce to be amicable. After the filing of the divorce, Sheriff and Mrs. Hatcher continued to speak to each other, see each other, and work on trying to repair the relationship.
Several weeks after the divorce was filed, Benton County elected officials involved themselves in the Hatcher’s divorce. The officials, who are not members of law enforcement or investigators, started pressuring Mrs. Hatcher to report a two-year-old allegation against Sheriff Hatcher. The officials went so far as to hold an hour-long meeting with Mrs. Hatcher without any law enforcement or investigators present. The pressure put on Mrs. Hatcher by the officials was so great that she drove to Idaho to ask for help in dealing with the pressure put on her by the officials.
Mrs. Hatcher drafted an email making it clear that the 2-year-old allegation was not true and that she had been pressured by Benton County officials to make the allegation. Mrs. Hatcher also continued to communicate with Sheriff Hatcher during this period of time, asking his advice on how to deal with what the officials had done.
It was only after the Benton County officials had pressured Mrs. Hatcher to make a report she knew to be false that the same officials then recused themselves from the case. If there was a conflict, that conflict existed the minute they involved themselves in the matter. The conflict existed when they held an hour long meeting with Mrs. Hatcher. The conflict existed throughout the time they pressured her.
Divorce proceedings can be emotional and people can make emotional decisions. While Sheriff Hatcher adamantly denies these false accusations, he does not blame his wife for the current situation and stands by his family. Sheriff Hatcher does blame the Benton County officials would exploit Mrs. Hatcher for their own gains.
Sheriff Hatcher will aggressively defend against these false allegations. To that end, Sheriff Hatcher’s legal team has already begun their own investigation. Charges were hastily filed without even the semblance of a full and fair investigation by the Washington State Patrol. Witnesses have not been interviewed. Vital evidence has not been collected. Sheriff Hatcher’s legal team has already begun collecting the evidence the State Patrol failed to secure. Sheriff Hatcher’s legal team will also be seeking a preservation order to ensure that forensic evidence that may be in the possession of Benton County officials is not destroyed.
Sheriff Hatcher will rely on his legal team to handle these false allegations while he continues to concentrates on serving the citizens of Benton County who elected him and have trusted him for over 30 years.
Sheriff Hatcher has retained Mr. Mason Pickett to assist with the civil portion of these accusations and Mr. Scott Johnson to assist with the criminal case.