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Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pullman music store owner charged with assault with sexual motivation involving a minor

UPDATED: Wed., April 3, 2019

Atom Heart Music is seen on Wednesday, April 3, 2019,  at 255 NE Olsen St. in Pullman. Victor Hudak, the longtime owner of the store, faces several accusations of groping or staring inappropriately at young girls while they shopped. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Atom Heart Music is seen on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, at 255 NE Olsen St. in Pullman. Victor Hudak, the longtime owner of the store, faces several accusations of groping or staring inappropriately at young girls while they shopped. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Victor Hudak, the longtime co-owner of Pullman’s only musical instrument store, faces several accusations of groping and staring inappropriately at young girls while they shopped.

One incident led to criminal charges filed in February in Whitman County District Court after a 14-year-old told police she was groped several times on Feb. 5. Hudak, who co-owns Atom Heart Music with Kristine and Steve Ashby on Olson Street downtown, was cited later that month with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor.

The 14-year-old victim reported to police she and a friend were shopping for a guitar at about 4:30 p.m., which is when Hudak, who appeared drunk, began staring at her, court records say. Later he reportedly grabbed her behind “six or seven times.”

The girl reported the behavior to an assistant principal at her school, who then relayed the information to a school resource officer at the Pullman Police Department.

Officer Nathan Padtra interviewed Hudak on Feb. 8. He denied intentionally groping the girl, and said if there was contact it was “incidental.” He also admitted to having a drinking problem and told Padtra he was buzzed during the transaction with the two young girls.

Hudak was charged shortly thereafter. Because the alleged crime is a misdemeanor, he was not arrested. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Padtra included in his report other instances of people reporting similar behavior by Hudak.

While Hudak has had several court hearings since he was first charged, the news didn’t become public until the Pullman Police Department posted a news release Tuesday night to its Facebook page.

Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said the timing was intentional in hopes more victims would come forward.

“We wanted to let people know it’s OK to report these things,” he said. “Also to ascertain the scope of the situation and let someone know that somebody stepped forward and reported this.”

Since writing the post, at least one woman has come forward, Tennant said.

Multiple attempts to reach Hudak went unanswered Wednesday. Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Hudak’s attorney Roger Sandberg said he’d heard nothing of additional allegations.

A family friend of Kristine and Steve Ashby said the couple could not be reached for comment because they were out of the country and wouldn’t return until the end of summer.

Several attempts to reach the store through the main phone number went unanswered.

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