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March 14, 1998
Author: MIKE BARBER, P-I Reporter
After three days of testimony about the conduct of child sex-abuse investigations here, a visiting judge yesterday had a pointed question for Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen:
“Does it sound to you that these allegations are a slight bit bizarre – that there’s something wrong here?” asked Whitman County Superior Court Judge Wallis Friel as the special hearing continued.
Riesen had wanted to limit testimony about alleged wrongdoing by police, state Child Protective Services caseworkers and others, but the judge instead widened his investigation.
Friel was brought to Chelan County to conduct the rare hearing ordered by the state Court of Appeals. His task is to determine if Wenatchee police Detective Bob Perez, along with the state CPS caseworkers, therapists and others, acted improperly in the investigation of child sex-abuse allegations in 1994 and 1995. The case at hand involves an illiterate couple, Harold and Idella Everett, whose child molestation convictions are now on appeal.
Two of the Everetts’ daughters were key prosecution witnesses, and were living in Perez’s home as foster children at the time. They accused scores of people of engaging in group sex with them and other children.
Reminding Riesen that the prosecutor himself had brought up the incident, Friel yesterday said he wants to learn more about the so-called “parade of homes” in March, 1995, when Perez and CPS workers drove one of the girls around town in a police car. She pointed out people and homes where she said she had been molested. Arrests followed.
Friel said the evidence “suggests to me that the witness was probably gilding the lilly,” or embellishing.
The judge said he has a dilemma – should he keep the scope of his inquiry narrow, as prosecutors want, or widen it to include incidents involving other defendants, as defense attorneys seek.
Riesen said he did not want to retry all the cases, but Friel yesterday allowed defense attorneys to bring up other cases to enter evidence about the actions of the girls and of the detective.
Doubts about the girl’s mental abilities and fantasizing are “relevant to the investigation if Detective Perez heard the same things. It has to do with the motives and methods of this interrogator,” Friel said.
Yet the Everetts’ children were key witnesses in many of the investigations carried out by Perez and CPS. The Wenatchee cases totaled more than 29,700 counts of child rape and molestation against 43 adults, involving 60 children, many of those counts linked to discredited fantastic tales of sex rings.
Higher courts have overturned several convictions, but 16 people remain in prison. A recent Post-Intelligencer investigation found the rights of many of the accused were violated as police and state workers charged with protecting the children acted with such zeal that they often did more harm than good.
The Everetts are central figures in the Wenatchee cases. Their daughters were key witnesses in dozens of prosecutions – including their own.
Yesterday, they denied they sexually abused their children.
Each said they wanted to clear their names at trial, but got poor legal advice and instead entered Alford pleas – not admitting guilt, but acknowledging likely conviction.
Idella Everett, 44, who has an IQ of 68, seemed timid and childlike on the stand, but adamantly said “no” when asked if she molested her children.
Yet her conviction was won in part through the use of her own confession – a confession she has long maintained was a lie she told because Perez threatened to take her children away if she didn’t agree to his version of events.
“He kept saying he had the one daughter and would get the other. I lied because I didn’t want nothing to happen to my kids because I love my kids,” she said.
“I said stuff about Harold that wasn’t true.”
Idella Everett said she completed special education through the eighth grade and could not read the confession she signed.
Though she did not understand her constitutional rights at the time of her arrest, she said she asked Perez if she could have her attorney from another matter help her.
Instead, Perez “said I didn’t need one and he didn’t think Rebecca Shaw would be my lawyer.” Shaw now practices law using her married name, Carroll.
Then, Idella Everett said, Perez told her that CPS caseworker Laurie Alexander, who was working with the detective, could represent her.
Everett said she was able to meet her attorney, Shaw, after she was booked into jail. She then told Shaw she had lied under pressure and asked to be allowed to take a lie detector test to prove it.
Later, Shaw discouraged her from fighting the charges in court.
“I wanted to prove my innocence,” Idella Everett said in an unusually loud voice.
But Shaw said there was no chance of winning and advised her to take a plea and nearly five years in prison. Shaw testified yesterday that she was fresh from law school and never tried a felony case.
Shaw said an expert psychologist considered Idella Everett incompetent to stand trial. But Shaw said her inexperience came into play when she tried to use the information to suppress the confession.
Shaw said Deputy Chelan County Prosecutor Alicia Nakata offered a plea bargain but threatened to remove it if Shaw tried to exercise Everett’s constitutional right to a competency hearing or even to interview the children.
Shaw said she accepted the plea bargain after conferring with her bosses, Wenatchee public defenders Jeff Barker and Keith Howard.
Harold Everett, 68, meanwhile, admitted he might have been guilty of using physical force – spanking children with a belt – and of poor housekeeping, but he adamantly denied sex abuse.
Asked how far he got in school, Everett said, “I never even got in the front door.” He said he can only read his own name.
The Everetts’ two youngest daughters were removed from their home by CPS because of complaints of negligence and excessive force in discipline. When his youngest daughter, who was living in Perez’s home in September 1994, implicated him and his wife, Everett said Perez showed up at his door to arrest him.
“He said, `I know you did it, and you are going to have to tell me.’ I said, `No I didn’t. You’re going to have to take me to jail.’ ”
With that, he was arrested.
Everett said the daughter who accused him was “a good girl, but she had two different personalities. Sometimes she was as nice as could be, but the others times she was outrageous. She threw fits, chopped with a knife on the furniture and would raise Cain with her mother,” he said.
Riesen, the prosecutor, noted that Everett was investigated in 1993 on allegations of physical abuse and touching one of his sons’ genitals.
But under questioning by his lawyer, Robert Van Siclen, Harold Everett said his son was a chronic bedwetter and suffered from infections that required application of medication.
Everett said his public defender, Kasey Edgar, advised him to take an Alford plea instead of going to trial after his wife confessed and based on allegations of his children.
While the couple’s simple, understated testimony brought angry tears of frustration from many in the audience, the appearance of their now-15-year-old daughter brought tears of sadness.
Friel admonished the audience to avoid any distractions during the girl’s testimony. For the first time, social workers and attorneys supporting her packed the front row of the courtroom.
Resembling her mother with long dark hair, the girl testified from behind a screen.
Contradicting two brothers who testified Wednesday that no abuse occurred, Melinda maintained she had been abused by her parents, and by groups of adults in other homes and in a church, where she said children were tied and molested “lots” of times.
But she said she remembers much more and often contradicted herself.
At one point, she said her prior recantation of allegations against her parents and others resulted from threats by her grandparents. Last week in a deposition for a civil trial, she said the threats had come from one of the accused.
Under questioning by Idella Everett’s lawyer, Jim Beecher, the girl pulled out several bottles of the medications she is taking, including Prozac and four other kinds of medication. She said she has been in and out of numerous group and foster homes and hospitals since being taken from her parents, and later removed in December 1995 from Perez’s home.
Still in the hands of the same therapist she has seen throughout the years, the girl said she has “been in handcuffs more than once. I was always running away.”
She said she has been in Spokane’s Sacred Heart Hospital “so many times I can’t remember.”
She grew tearful when she said, “It’s hard to live in foster care.”
The girl and her parents both openly wept. She said she realizes she can’t go home to them again. Nor can she again live in Perez’s house. She said Perez took her to the ocean and to Disneyland, and would like to go back there because “I like him.”
Copyright (c) 1998, 2000 Seattle Post-Intelligencer ( http://seattlep-i.com). All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Record Number: 9803150065
Patients cry `yea,’ officials cry `nay’ over therapist’s Prozac use
By New York Times News Service
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WENATCHEE, Wash. – If the people in this valley of big pears and blushing
apples seem happy – or at least less prone to crankiness – it may be in no
small part because of Dr. James D. Goodwin.
Dr. Goodwin and the drug Prozac arrived here about the same time, bringing
a whole new approach for treating depression to the Apple Capital of the
Since he started private practice in this Columbia River town of 21,000 in
1989, Dr. Goodwin says, he has seen more than 600 people with symptoms of
depression. And he says for almost all of them, his treatment has included
Prozac, the antidepressant now used by more than 6 million Americans.
Dr. Goodwin, like most clinical psychologists, is not a medical doctor, so
he refers patients to physicians, who prescribe Prozac, in conjunction with
Dr. Goodwin says he can sometimes make a diagnosis in minutes after seeing
a client. Many of his clients say he is the best thing to happen to
Wenatchee since they figured out a way to keep apples looking fresh year
Dr. Goodwin may be to psychology what the drive-through contact lens
dispenser is to optometry. He has made it quick and relatively easy to get
help for an affliction that has long been treated by years of talk therapy,
or in severe cases with slow-acting drugs that also had troublesome side
But to some of his professional peers, and the Washington State Board of
Psychology, Dr. Goodwin is a threat. In a rare action, the board has
brought a formal complaint against Dr. Goodwin that could cost him his
He is accused of being too quick to diagnose patients and of overuse on
Prozac as a therapeutic tool. The accusations, filed last month, say that
Dr. Goodwin may pose “a threat to the public health, safety and welfare.”
To Dr. Goodwin and his supporters the only threat he poses is to
psychologists whose approach to treating depression is years of costly
Many of his patients are farmhands, maintenance workers and mechanics,
people who say they have neither the money nor the inclination to spend
months or even years in therapy.
“We have had a revolution in mental health in the last five years, and many
of my colleagues are afraid of it,” said Dr. Goodwin, who has a small
office in this town three hours east of Seattle. “Money is the bottom line.
They don’t like the fact that you may be able to diagnose and treat
somebody relatively quickly.”
Other therapists say that long-term depression is still too complex to be
treated like a common ailment, and that Dr. Goodwin’s approach is
simplistic and possibly harmful.
“Depression is not something you can figure out simply with a diagnostic
dip-stick – `Oh, you’re down a quart; better take Prozac,’ ” said Doug
Fizel, a spokesman for the American Psychological Association, which
represents 118,000 members.
Prozac is driving a wedge among mental health professionals nationwide.
Although many people rave about the positive results from the drug, a
number of side effects also have been reported, included reduced sex drive
Some experts also fear that Prozac is being handed out as a palliative for
the normal bumps of daily life.
But consumers are demanding it. Dr. Goodwin said Prozac “is a good tool,
like a computer.”
“I am not pro-Prozac,” he said. “I’m pro-psychotherapy. I mix medicine with
Dr. Goodwin is viewed locally as either a visionary who is being persecuted
for being years ahead of his time, or as a borderline quack. The state
psychology board says in the complaint against him that his treatment
“lacks a rational, scientific and coherent basis.”
Among the things that make Dr. Goodwin different from other psychologists
is his admission to patients on their first visit that he suffers from
depression himself and that he has been using Prozac for years.
Making himself a role model in this way bothers some other psychologists.
But his clients speak glowingly of him.
“He’s ahead of his time, and suffering a backlash because of it, ” said
Fred Arnson, 53, a hospital maintenance engineer.
Mr. Arnson said he has been plagued by depression for years and tried
medical doctors and other psychotherapists, to little avail. Then, last
June, he started seeing Dr. Goodwin and taking Prozac.
“Dr. Goodwin gets people out and back on the road again,” Mr. Arnson said.
If the medical board suspends or revokes Dr. Goodwin’s license, “It will be
a great loss for this town,” said Susan Barker, of the Wenatchee Chamber of
Ms. Barker has been treated by Dr. Goodwin for nearly a year. After a
lifetime of depression, she said Prozac has allowed her to live a normal
“It’s a witch hunt,” she said of the state investigation. “He poses a
threat to other psychologists. He admits his depression, he makes people
better, and they don’t like that.”
Although neither officials of the state psychology board nor the
psychologists who complained about Dr. Goodwin responded to interview
requests, board documents outline the case against him.
The records indicate that four psychologists met with Dr. Goodwin nearly
two years ago, trying to persuade him to change his treatment method.
Dr. Goodwin said he would be vindicated at a full hearing on the charges,
which has not been scheduled.
“I take great pride in making a lot of noise,” he said.