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Federal judge won’t release Kennewick’s convicted former schools chief

Paul W. Rosier, a former Kennewick School District superintendent, will remain behind bars until he is sentenced in federal court for attempted child sex trafficking. He is facing at least 10 years in prison. (Tri-City Herald)
Paul W. Rosier, a former Kennewick School District superintendent, will remain behind bars until he is sentenced in federal court for attempted child sex trafficking. He is facing at least 10 years in prison. (Tri-City Herald)

Convicted sex offender Paul W. Rosier will stay behind bars in Kennewick until sentencing because of the length of time he is facing in federal prison.

Rosier thought he would be able to return to his home in Tempe, Ariz., after pleading guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to attempted child sex trafficking with a victim under age 18.

But Senior Judge Ed Shea said Wednesday the law is clear that detention is mandatory when a convicted person faces 10 years or more to life.

There are a few exceptions to that requirement, Shea acknowledged, but Rosier’s age and record of weekly counseling sessions do not qualify.

Rosier, 76, expected to be free until Oct. 2 – the original sentencing date set.

His attorney, Scott Johnson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Jones had agreed to the freedom issue as part of his plea deal.

But that all changed after federal prosecutors got word from Rosier’s estranged wife earlier this week that he’d allegedly made a suicidal statement.

Shea listened Wednesday to testimony about Rosier’s mental health but didn’t make a finding on the suicide claims. He ruled instead that the issue of detention came down to the law.

He asked probation officers to speed up their presentencing report so he could move up sentencing.

“Given the change in circumstances, the sooner that Mr. Rosier at his age can get to a facility designated by (the federal Bureau of Prisons) is better for him, and the sooner he is back to treatment the better for him as well,” said Shea.

Rosier is being held at the Benton County jail in Kennewick as a contract inmate.

Rosier is a former Kennewick School District superintendent and retired head of the Washington Association of School Administrators.

He admitted trying to meet up with two teen girls in April 2017, while in Richland for a national board meeting of The Children’s Reading Foundation. He served as the organization’s national board chairman.

Living in Olympia at the time, he had been exchanging messages with what he believed was a 16-year-old girl and offered to give her $40 to set him up with a 13-year-old girl. He was going to pay $160 to the younger girl.

Rosier did not know the older teen actually was an undercover detective with the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

He had been out of custody on court-ordered conditions since several days after his arrest last year.

Jones, the federal prosecutor, said he had agreed to Rosier’s continued release until he learned of the alleged suicide threats.

On Tuesday, Rosier’s estranged wife, Mary, traveled from her Colorado home to her husband’s Arizona home – while he was in the Tri-Cities – and discovered a ripped up letter in a trash can, Jones said.

The letter was addressed “To whom it may concern” and had Paul Rosier’s signature.

“I have chosen to end my life. I apologize to all the people I have hurt in this situation,” the letter said. “This is my choice. No one assisted me. It is time to bring closure to the grief and pain I have caused my family and friends.”

Johnson said it’s not clear when the letter was written.

He had Rosier’s licensed therapist, Kenneth Wells, and son Ronald Rosier, both in Arizona, testify Wednesday by phone.

Wells said Rosier initially talked of suicide, but after more than a year of therapy, Rosier has done nothing to suggest he might harm himself.

Ron Rosier, who is an attorney, said he visited with his father on Monday after hearing the surprising allegations and didn’t have any concerns about his behavior.

He also said that his father was troubled in the beginning after being indicted, but this week is the best he has seen him in a while “because I think he finally came to terms with things” and the consequences with the plea agreement.


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