While Wesley Perez, the 37-year-old Spanish teacher placed on administrative leave from Mead High School, looked on from a TV screen attached to a wall, at times slumping his head or adjusting his gaze, attorney Bob Dunn argued why Perez should remain in jail.
“This is a case about manipulation of a minor that took place over a protracted period of time,” Dunn said, referring to his client, a student at the school. “The minor victim and her parents are in constant fear that if this man is released, or is allowed to be released … that he will do, or continue to do, what he did in the past to manipulate the situation and to manipulate her.”
Dunn was speaking at Perez’s bail reduction hearing Thursday morning on behalf of the student and her family. It was the first time the judge had heard from the student who, while anonymous in court documents and in the media, was thrust into a regionwide spotlight when accusations of sexual misconduct against Perez surfaced in April.
Dunn called the alleged crime “cold and calculating,” referring to Perez as a person who not only “knew what he was doing” in a position of authority and didn’t stop, but when confronted, tried to hide it from authorities and school officials.
“The trauma that this man has caused this child can’t be overstated,” Dunn said in court. “And as a result of it, the counseling will continue for an indefinite period of time.”
According to court records, school officials learned of the alleged relationship when Mead Principal Jeff Naslund received an anonymous letter in mid-April. The document contained details of a secret affair involving Perez and the underage student.
In the following weeks, detectives learned that the student’s friends were aware of the relationship, which included the two meeting in Perez’s truck and driving to secluded areas – and that the two had sexual intercourse for the first time earlier this school year.
The alleged victim told detectives, after initially denying the relationship, that Perez asked her to lie and deny everything, court records say. He further asked her to deny ever talking with him after school, and told her to stick to a story that the two met and bonded over having both just lost loved ones.
“It’s not a situation where you’ve got to report a crime that took place because of a momentary lack of judgment,” Dunn said. “This is calculated and cold, cold in design, over a protracted period of time, that culminated in the sexual abuse of this child.”
Perez, who has no criminal history, was given a bail of $100,000 when he was charged with first-degree sexual misconduct and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes on May 24.
Defense attorney Anthony Martinez argued Thursday that his client is not accused of a violent crime, has no criminal history in Washington or elsewhere and, furthermore, has several ties to the community that would ensure he appears for further court hearings.
The defense also introduced a letter from Perez’s wife, who asked the judge to release her husband so he can help care for their three young children.
Superior Court Judge James Triplet saw merits in both arguments and ultimately cut bail in half, setting it at $50,000. If Perez posts bail, he is still prevented from being around minors under the court’s conditions, including his own children.
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