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Wenatchee Preacher Faces More Charges

Wed., Nov. 1, 1995, midnight

A Pentecostal preacher and his wife face 17 additional counts that they had sex with children in their East Wenatchee home and church.

Pastor Robert “Roby” Roberson now is charged with 24 counts of child rape or molestation involving six alleged victims. His wife, Connie Roberson, is accused of 15 similar charges against four children.

The Robersons are scheduled to go to trial Monday.

“My question is why, one week before we try this case, do we change direction totally?” asked Robert Van Siclen, the pastor’s attorney. “The whole thing reeks of mismanagement from the prosecutor’s office.

“Obviously, the prosecution has known about this. We’ve been kept in the dark and we don’t know about this.”

Pastor Roberson, 50, said four new victims were named against him because his two initial accusers now are in psychiatric hospitals, unable to testify.

He also said the prosecution is angered over recent media reports that have criticized the sex ring investigation.

“It’s total retaliation,” he said. “We’ll be ready for them next week.”

Douglas County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Biggar said the new charges shouldn’t be a surprise to the defense attorneys because the statements from the children were available before any charges were filed.

“The children that we’ve added as victims were previously on our witness list,” Biggar said. “The filing came about because the charges reflect what evidence will be presented at the time of the trial.”

The Robersons were expected to be arraigned today on the new charges, which were filed Friday.

About 45 adults have been charged since 1993 with participating in what authorities describe as two loosely organized sex rings in operation since 1988 in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee.

Sixteen adults have entered Alford pleas, not admitting guilt but acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict them.

Nine others were convicted at trial, most on reduced charges.

Felony charges against nine other adults have been dismissed. Ten people are awaiting trial.

Community critics of the sex ring case say Wenatchee police Detective Bob Perez has a history of targeting his critics and persecuting poor, developmentally disabled people who cannot defend themselves.

They note that no defendant who has hired his or her own attorney has been convicted.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Associated Press Staff writer J. Todd Foster contributed to this report.

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