Breaking News

WHS student facing rape charges

Story broke Sept. 11, 2014
Story broke Sept. 11, 2014

Story broke here Sept. 11, 2014 and continued to be updated for about two weeks.


BREAKING Sept. 11 2:00 p.m.

A Wenatchee High School freshman boy has been arrested and booked into juvenile detention on an alleged three counts of third-degree rape, making his preliminary appearance in Chelan County Superior Court this morning.

WHS Principal Bob Celebrezze said this afternoon that the investigation being conducted by the Wenatchee School District and the Wenatchee Police Department is ongoing, but wouldn’t comment on whether the incident happened on school time or under school staff supervision.

Chelan County Court Clerk Kim Morrison said this afternoon that the court found reasonable grounds for pressing charges in today’s preliminary appearance. The defense questioned the legitimacy of the allegations against the suspect in court today. The court determined that the suspect is a minor threat to community safety, Morrison said.

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25. The court set bond at $50,000 today, and the suspect remains in juvenile detention, Morrison said.

Celebrezze declined comment on if there were other suspects involved. While he wanted to comment on the number of students affected by the incident, he said he wouldn’t comment due to the ongoing investigation. Celebrezze did not comment on whether the student had been expelled.

Celebrezze also declined to comment on any teachers or district employees who are under investigation in relation to the incident at this time, again citing the ongoing investigation.

The police are conducting interviews, Celebrezze said, and this case could go on for a long time. Multiple detectives are working the case, Celebrezze said.

Third degree rape is a class C felony, which could entail five years of jail time and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

This story is developing and updates will be posted.

UPDATE Sept. 12 11:45 a.m.

A 14-year-old Wenatchee High School student remains in juvenile detention this morning after Thursday’s preliminary hearing on three counts of rape in Chelan County Superior Court.

Juvenile prosecutor Allen Blackmon was not available for comment this morning, but Chelan County Prosecuting Attorney Doug Shae said the deadline for pressing charges against the juvenile for a possible three counts of second-degree rape, which allegedly occurred on a school athletic bus trip Saturday, is Monday.

The Apple Leaf originally reported that the student was being held on three counts of third-degree rape, according to court records, but following yesterday’s preliminary hearing, the court found probable cause for upping the charges to rape in the second degree. There are three student victims in the case, according to a report today by The Wenatchee World.

The difference between second- and third-degree rape is second-degree rape is a class A felony, compared to a class C felony attached to third-degree rape. A class A felony could mean, at the most, life in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

WHS Principal Bob Celebrezze made an automated call to all WHS students and families last night, indicating that an incident happened on Saturday on a charter bus. Celebrezze held a mandatory staff meeting this morning, and assured the district is working closely with authorities and that measures have been taken to assure that all students and staff are safe. The World reported today the accused student has been expelled.

Shae said the student might have a record with the courts, but declined to comment on any specific incidents in the past involving the accused student. The court will decide, likely following the Sept. 25 arraignment, if the student will be charged as an adult, Shae said, if charges are filed.

Wenatchee Police Captain Doug Jones was unavailable for comment this morning. The lead detective on the case is Jared Reinfeld, who declined to comment. The student’s attorney, Brandon Redal, was not available for comment.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18, when the court will decide whether to keep holding the accused student in juvenile detention based on the status of the case at that time, Shae said.

“We walk a tight line,” Shae said, noting the public’s right to know and the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

A WHS football coach has been placed on paid administrative leave for his coaching position, but is still teaching at WHS. The leave is common practice for a thorough investigation to take place, according to John Brangwin, the coach’s attorney. The coach is not a suspect, but a witness, in the case, he said.

“I can’t imagine any charge on the coach, especially in relation to supervision,” Brangwin said, “but we have to wait for the facts.” Brangwin said the coach made regular checks of the school bus.

According to Brangwin, there are no specific guidelines for teachers or chaperones on school bus trips. Wenatchee School District Transportation Director Marcia Hahn and Assistant Superintendent Jon DeJong were unavailable for comment this morning.

“When all the players left at night, he (the coach) had no reason to think anything happened,” Brangwin said. “We can’t conclude from his observations that it did or didn’t happen.”

Brangwin fully expects the football coach to be reinstated after the investigation.

Reinfeld said the investigation will likely take about two more weeks.

Emily Cieslak, Evie Hyde, Reno Franklin, Josey Meats, and Jackson Powell contributed to this report.

UPDATE Sept. 16 3:20 p.m.

Formal charges were filed yesterday in the case against a freshman boy accused of sexually assaulting three other students on a Wenatchee High School football bus trip. He faces three counts of second-degree rape.

The 14-year-old was arrested Wednesday and remains in juvenile detention on $50,000 bond.

He will appear in court Thursday for a detention hearing, where the court will decide if he can be released from juvie on house arrest.

The suspect is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 25. Second-degree rape could mean life in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. The court won’t decide until after Sept. 25 if the student will be charged as an adult.

A football coach remains on paid administrative leave at this time, while the investigation is continued, his attorney, John Brangwin, said in an email this afternoon.

“My client was placed on administrative leave by the district from coaching only. The stated purpose of the leave is to allow the district to conduct an investigation into the alleged ‘rape’ on the charter bus,” Brangwin said in an email. “Keep in mind that ‘rape’ requires a lack of consent.

“As I understand the allegations there was horseplay and the players may have been poking each other in the anal area. I don’t believe anyone is alleging penetration under clothing, which is probably what your readers are thinking,” Brangwin’s email said.

Brangwin is concerned about the allegations and what they entail at this time, but that information is subject to hearing and trial.

“Your readers are also probably thinking of rape as a sexual act, but I don’t think the facts will support that either,” Brangwin emailed. “My client was diligent in supervising the bus ride, beyond the requirements of his contract, and in so doing he did not see anything that was amiss, nor did anyone report something being amiss during the ride or immediately after.”

The Wenatchee School District is still conducting an internal investigation, so Brangwin said it’s unclear how long the coaching paid administrative leave will last. The coach is still being paid for his teaching duties at WHS.

The coach has been instructed to not talk with students on the team regarding the incident in an effort to protect the integrity of the investigation, Brangwin said.

UPDATE Sept. 19 5:05 p.m.

The Wenatchee High School freshman accused of second-degree rape won’t be getting out of juvenile detention just yet, after the court ruled yesterday to continue holding him on $50,000 bond.

The defendant’s attorney, Brandon Redal, requested yesterday to eliminate bail for the teen, but the prosecutor objected and bail was not removed. Redal, who is a public defender, was appointed to this case, a Chelan County Clerk’s Office staffer said this morning.

Chelan County Court Commissioner Bart Vandegrift also decided yesterday that the defendant will continue to be held, unless the defense can provide more evidence.

The defendant was charged with third-degree assault after an incident at Pioneer Middle School in January, the Chelan County Clerk’s Office staffer said this morning.

The Sept. 6 alleged rape on a freshman football team charter bus violated the defendant’s community supervision requirements.

The teen was being held on $1,500 cash bail for the January assault, but yesterday the court revoked those conditions of release due to the alleged rape, the Clerk’s Office staffer said.

The defendant is still scheduled to appear in court Sept. 25 for arraignment.

Wenatchee School District’s internal investigation is still in the early phases and ongoing, Executive Director of Human Resources Lisa Turner said Wednesday. The freshman football team coach remains on paid administrative leave.

FOOTBALL TEAM SEEKING ‘NORMALCY’

Social Studies teacher and former assistant coach Brandon Harle has been named freshman head coach starting Monday, and Athletic Director Jim Beeson said it’s likely he’ll remain in that role for the rest of the season.

Maui Borden, a guest speaker with Proactive Coaching, was hired by the Wenatchee School District to come in to start getting the team back to “normalcy,” Beeson said this afternoon.

Borden conducted his first session with the football team’s captains and ASB leaders this afternoon, speaking about leadership qualities and team goals for regaining normalcy. A second session included most of the football team and some ASB leaders.

“The incident that took place is never going to go away,” Beeson said. The purpose of the guest speaker was to get the team back on the right track, and hear a new perspective on an important topic, Beeson said.

Wenatchee School District has offered private counseling services to all football players, Beeson said this evening, calling the district “committed” to doing what’s right and beneficial to those affected by the incident.

Last night, the WHS varsity football team beat the Eisenhower Cadets 34-6 in Yakima. Beeson said that was a good step for getting the team back on the right track.

“It’s good to see them getting back to being able to laugh and do things as a group that high school students should be doing,” Beeson said.

UPDATE Sept. 22 6:50 p.m.

The Apple Leaf originally reported that Brandon Redal, the juvenile defendant’s attorney, was a public defender, when in fact he is actually a private attorney, according to John Brangwin, the attorney for the freshman football coach on paid administrative leave. Redal was appointed to the case by the court, due to a conflict in the public defender’s office, and was already representing the juvenile in the assault case from earlier this year, Brangwin said in an email Monday.

UPDATE Sept. 25 1:40 p.m.

The Wenatchee High School freshman charged with three counts of second-degree rape pleaded not guilty on all counts in court this morning. Chelan County Court Commissioner Bart Vandegrift set the defendant’s trial for Oct. 24, with the assumption that it will probably be delayed, due to the ongoing investigation.

The defendant is also being held on one count of third-degree assault, which occurred in January when the student was in middle school, and will be sentenced for that charge on Oct. 14.

Vandegrift reminded the defendant that each count of second-degree rape could entail life in prison or a maximum $50,000 fine. Chelan County Prosecuting Attorney Doug Shae said this afternoon that the student will not be tried as an adult, as of right now, unless the prosecution requests that.

“If it were to come, it would have to be filed soon,” Shae said, noting that this would have to be filed before the trial.

Some of the victims’ parents, the defendant’s parents, and Wenatchee School District Superintendent Brian Flones attended the hearing at the Juvenile Justice Center this morning.

The defendant will appear in court Oct. 14 for sentencing on the assault and a readiness hearing to prepare for the Oct. 24 trial. The trial will likely be heard by a Chelan County Superior Court judge, rather than Vandegrift, because it will likely be a multi-day trial, where evidence from the ongoing investigation will be presented.

Click here to read the story that The Apple Leaf posted after police completed their investigation.