Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher refuses to step down
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher plans on continuing to serve the community while facing a legal battle over domestic violence allegations made by his wife, Monica.
Sheriff Hatcher’s criminal defense attorney, Scott Johnson, issued a statement on his behalf saying his wife’s allegations of abuse are untrue. In the statement, the sheriff mentions that he does not intend on leaving his post during his criminal or civil proceedings.
The statement was sent out via email a few minutes after unions representing hundreds of Benton County law enforcement officials called for the Sheriff Hatcher’s resignation.
The sheriff alleges that two Benton County officials pressured Monica Hatcher into reporting a 2-year-old abuse allegation after she filed for divorce on Sept. 18.
“The officials went so far as to hold an hour-long meeting with Mrs. Hatcher without any law enforcement or investigators present,” Hatcher’s defense attorney said.
Monica accused him of choking her after she confronted him about an extramarital affair in December 2017. She also said he helped her write an email to the prosecutor’s office recanting her allegation and pressured her to send it.
The sheriff’s defense said Sheriff Hatcher and his wife were on relatively friendly terms after she filed for divorce, and they continued talking, seeing each other and working on repairing their relationship. He said county officials involved themselves in their divorce a few weeks later, and the dynamic changed.
Court documents identified the county officials as Prosecuting Attorney Andy Miller and Commissioner Jerome Delvin.
Monica obtained a protection order against Sheriff Hatcher in early October. Hatcher’s defense claims the conflict between him and his wife stems directly from the county officials getting involved.
“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,” his defense attorney said.
Monica later told investigators that Sheriff Hatcher had gone out of town but kept calling her to check if she’d sent the email that said the allegation was false. She said Miller and a law enforcement official she’d been speaking to advised her to send the email to deescalate the situation.
On Wednesday, a special prosecutor at the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges of fourth-degree assault (domestic violence) and tampering with a witness.
Hatcher has adamantly denied his wife’s allegations on several occasions.
His defense claims the charges against him were filed hastily and the Washington State Patrol did not collect vital evidence during their investigation, including interviewing witnesses.
“Sheriff Hatcher will rely on his legal team to handle these false allegations while he continues to concentrate on serving the citizens of Benton County who elected him and have trusted him for over 30 years,” the statement from his defense said.
The legal team said they have already begun their own investigation.