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.


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.

Breaking News

No Apple Bowl graduation for Class of 2015

Story broke Sept. 17, 2014
Story broke Sept. 17, 2014

Story broke here Sept. 17, 2014.

The 2015 graduation ceremony won’t be held at the Apple Bowl — the first time since 2001, when it was moved due to bad weather. Wenatchee School District’s Capital Improvement Bond, approved widely earlier this year, scheduled renovation work on the grandstands of the Apple Bowl to begin before the scheduled graduation date of June 5.

“The Apple Bowl is going to be under construction,” senior class adviser Brandon Harle said today. “If half of the seating in the Apple Bowl is gone, it’s physically impossible to hold an event that size.”

At the Aug. 26 school board meeting, Wenatchee High School Principal Bob Celebrezze and Harle presented the board with an alternative plan for the graduation ceremony.

Instead, school officials suggested that the graduation ceremony be held at the Town Toyota Center. Normally, graduation is held on Friday night. But there’s a problem — Eastmont High School already has the Town Toyota Center reserved on Friday night during graduation week. The solution? WHS will likely hold graduation on Thursday night, June 4.

“There will be graduation …  there always has been graduation,” Harle said. “There’s a 100-percent chance of graduation.”

Besides the Town Toyota Center, Harle said there are no other realistic options in the area. If the ceremony was held in the WHS gym, he said each graduate would get about two tickets. Nearly 5,000 people attend graduation each year, Harle said.

“It’s not a decision that was made lightly,” nor arbitrarily, Harle said. He understands that the disadvantage of not having graduation at the Apple Bowl is the tradition factor, but mentioned the advantages of better sound and sight by holding it at the Town Toyota Center.

Celebrezze was unavailable for comment this morning.

Architects on the improvement project expect it to be completed by the fall sports season of 2015.

Stadium construction delays are causing a problem for  Big Nine schools currently, Harle said, which is what WHS is trying to avoid in the 2015 season. Zaepfel Stadium in the Yakima School District is under construction, after voters there approved a bond. This has caused Davis and Eisenhower High School’s current fall sports to share Marquette Stadium, which is property of a Yakima private school.

Another WHS graduation tradition? Fireworks. Harle said not to worry — fireworks will be incorporated at the Town Toyota Center.

Look for additional coverage on this story in The Apple Leaf on Sept. 24.

Breaking News

Car prowler caught in the act by WHS security

Story broke May 15, 2014
Story broke May 15, 2014

Story broke here May 15, 2014.

A car prowler was caught red-handed in the Wenatchee High School main parking lot by WHS Safety and Security Officer Janine Owyen and Wenatchee Police officers this morning.

Dustin Graff, a 21-year-old East Wenatchee man, was booked into jail, facing charges of vehicle prowl, theft in the third degree, and criminal trespass, a Wenatchee Police records staffer said this afternoon.

Owyen spotted a Pontiac Grand Prix on surveillance cameras around 9:30 a.m. Owyen noticed the car because it was the same car that entered the parking lot on May 12 and whose driver ransacked a student’s car near the athletic entrance, stealing small items such as nail polish, Owyen said.

Graff is shown on surveillance recordings from this morning’s incident pulling into the parking lot, parking in a normal stall, waiting for passersby to clear, then putting a black glove on his hand to begin the prowl.

That’s when he noticed someone passing by, and quickly got back in his car to hide. After the students passed, Graff exited his car, had a discussion with his passenger, and approached a car parked in the next row. It was unlocked.

Owyen followed Graff on surveillance cameras while Principal Bob Celebrezze called RiverCom 911.

Nearly 15 minutes after Graff first entered the parking lot, three Wenatchee Police officers arrived and went right to the car Graff was in. Guns drawn, the officers jumped out of the car and began the process of taking Graff into custody.

An unmarked police car then approached the parking stall where the Grand Prix was located, and the officer drew his gun on the 21-year-old female passenger. She received a criminal trespass warning from Wenatchee School District. Her name was withheld from the report. There’s no record of any criminal charges being filed.

Graff is now awaiting an arraignment hearing in Chelan County District Court from the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.

“Cameras were our number one tool that we used to solve this vehicle prowl,” Owyen said. “Be aware of your surroundings, [and] lock your car.”

Breaking News

WHS votes to approve modified block scheduling, now to Superintendent

Story published Nov. 30, 2013
Story published Nov. 30, 2013

Story broke here Nov. 20, 2013.

Wenatchee High School staff members voted this morning to approve a modified block schedule for the 2014-15 school year. The vote passed 63 to 37 percent, just three percent over the required 60-percent mark.

The modified block schedule would consist of four 85-minute class periods Tuesday through Thursday, and Monday and Friday would have six 42-minute periods per day. All five days will have a 13-minute long “nutrition” break which would replace the current PAWS/break, and lunch will be 40 minutes long, including the six minutes of passing time, compared with the current 35-minute lunch, including the five minutes of passing time. About 14 minutes would be added to class time each day under the schedule.

Voting took place this morning between 7 and 8 a.m. Votes were submitted in a room in the music department. A total of 120 staff members voted and no administrators were allowed to vote. All teachers were given the choice to vote and some did not because they arrived late, weren’t here today, or simply didn’t want to. A total of 122 certified staff members were eligible to vote.

“I think there are lots of good reasons to have block scheduling,” Dean of Students Mike Franza said. “When students wake up in the morning they have fewer classes to deal with, so when they go to bed at night they have fewer things to worry about for tomorrow. They have longer times in class to either develop relationships with teachers or get work done. So again, as long as the teachers are trained and prepared to do it the right way then it works out well.”

Principal Bob Celebrezze said if the proposal is approved by Wenatchee School District Superintendent Brian Flones and the school board, teachers will go through training because they are used to teaching in a certain time period. The training will teach them how to use the longer class periods effectively.

Flones said that the district is still working on the logistics of total time that students are in class before taking it to the school board.

“I think it’s got a lot of promise,” Flones said. He said that a major problem educators are facing is that there is not enough time or days to effectively teach. However, he does anticipate a learning curve for everyone involved.

“It will make for a more relaxed school atmosphere. I can only speculate that the superintendent will support my recommendation,” Celebrezze said.

So far, a mixed reaction has come from students. Out of the seven interviewed, four students disapproved, but remained optimistic about what the schedule could bring to WHS. “I’m going to hate being in class for that long but it’ll probably be really helpful,” junior Christaldo Rodriguez said.

Freshman Bryce Peters sees the block schedule as a helpful tool. “I like it because it’s going to give us more time to learn and work on our own,” Peters said.

Senior Ali Marboe doesn’t like the idea but will not be affected by it when she graduates. “I feel bad for all of the kids that have to go through block schedule,” Marboe said.

Teachers have mixed feelings as well. “Now that it is being proposed I hope we do it the right way,” said English teacher Dave Carlson, who opposed modified block scheduling. “I would like to know if it works for the students; I will support anything for the right reason.”

“I don’t know; I have questions about it,” math teacher Tom Alexander, another opponent, said. “It will be difficult for math and AP classes. Students doing sports will also be affected since they will miss a day and a half of school. I hope we make an objective evaluation at the end of one year. I am committed to making it work though.”

English Department Head Chris Cloke remains neutral. “I anticipated it would pass. I think there are emotional arguments for me. Student learning comes first and if this is something that will improve that I am all for it,” Cloke said. “It’s not a major shift. I feel like and a relaxed pace would benefit both students and staff. Why not try it? We can always go back.”

Originally suggested by Celebrezze, he will continue to push the proposal through school district administrators.

“The faculty wants to give each and every student the best opportunity possible to find success and happiness. This is one way to do that, it’s just one piece of the puzzle,” Celebrezze said.

Flones said students will notice additional time and the pace of the school day will have benefits that students haven’t experienced before. He looks forward to watching it progress.