The anger is gone:
Michael Rose stands outside his home in Tonasket. He said reading a Bible
helped him while in prison. Rose has always maintained he was innocent of
rape and molestation charges.
World photo/Tim PatrickBy Katherine Schiffner, World staff writerWENATCHEE
When Michael Rose left prison, he took five Bibles with him. But he left
behind his intense anger, he says, over his child rape and molestation
The 32-year-old man always maintained his innocence. For six years, he fought
to get out of prison. But when he walked out of the Twin Rivers Correctional
Facility Dec. 7 and hugged his mother, he said he was overwhelmed with
relief, not wrath."I got rid of my anger and bitterness years ago. Had to, or
else it would have ruined me," Rose said.Authorities had accused Rose of
participating in a Wenatchee "sex ring" involving young children.
He was convicted in March 1995 of rape and molestation charges involving two
boys, and would have spent 23 years in prison if he had not won an appeal. A
judge vacated his convictions Dec. 5.He was the 18th sex-abuse defendant to
be released from prison when courts overturned their convictions or because
they pleaded guilty to lesser charges."I did not do any of it," Rose said
about the allegations in a telephone interview from his mother and
stepfather's home in Tonasket.
After five days of freedom, Rose still marveled at everyday pleasures, such
as spotting a squirrel and drinking real coffee. "I don't see razor wire when
I look out the window. That's nice," he said.Rose, who worked as a handyman
before going to prison, said he's looking for a job. He eventually wants to
get married and have a family and hopes his case will not follow him for the
rest of his life.And though Rose is celebrating his freedom, he says prison
had some positive influence on his life.
He became a Christian and "started living the way God wanted me to live."That
lifestyle includes frequently reading the Bible, avoiding violent and
sexually explicit television shows and not swearing. Rose said he
occasionally smoked marijuana and drank too much before he went to prison. No
more, he said."I grew up (in prison). I was living a pretty wild lifestyle
before," he said. "I live healthy now. I eat healthy. I follow God's
laws."Rose said he relied on his strong faith to sustain him in prison and
plans to stay devoted to it now that he's out. He turned to God, he said,
when he made decisions about whether to take a plea bargain to a lesser
charge and get out of prison as early as March 1999. He said God told him to
stay behind bars and wait."I look back, and I still wouldn't have took it,
but it was awful tempting," he said, adding prosecutors offered him pleas
before his trial and in 1999.
Rose said it was his faith, too, that led him to forgive Cherie Town, who
testified against him at his trial. He said he holds former Wenatchee Police
Detective Bob Perez partially responsible for his convictions, but stopped
being angry with Perez after several years in prison."If he asked
forgiveness, I would forgive him," Rose said.
But Rose said it's tough for him to forget the circumstances that led up to
his incarceration. This is his version of the events from late 1993 through
1995:Rose said Town's two disabled boys told him in December 1993 their
father, Meridith "Gene" Town, had molested them during a camping trip. Rose,
who was living in the Towns' basement room at the time, said he told Cherie
Town about the boys' allegations. Cherie and Gene Town were arrested in April
1994 on multiple counts of child rape and molestation.Rose said Perez
questioned him about his involvement when the Towns were arrested, but did
not arrest him until Sept. 19, 1994. Rose said he was surprised by the
allegations and said he believes Perez pressured Cherie Town to name him and
Randall Reed as suspects.
"If we had done something, I would have thought it would have came out right
when everything else did," he said.Rose alleged Perez coerced the boys into
making up allegations and that the former detective and social workers
manufactured evidence against him. He said his trial lawyer, Phil Safar, did
not fully investigate Perez and should have challenged the charges more
vigorously.Rose said when the jury came back with a verdict of guilty, he
felt numb. "My mom was crying. That was the worst part -- seeing my mom cry,"
he said.Afterward, he said he "was glad the trial was over so we could get to
A six-year appeals battle followed, and ended in Rose's release Dec. 7. On
Nov. 22, the state Court of Appeals found that enough questions existed about
the allegations against Rose to order a special hearing to explore his
appeal. The court cited evidence that questions Perez's methods and the
reliability of the two boys who made allegations against Rose.The court noted
evidence the boys' physical exams did not reveal abuse and that they had
severe psychiatric and developmental problems.
Doctors diagnosed one alleged victim, who was 11 at the time, with an I.Q. of
49 and said he was "highly suggestible and easily influenceable," according
to court documents.Testimony Cherie Town gave against Rose is questionable
too, the court wrote, because she had recanted her allegations against Reed.
Reed's attorneys had argued Perez pressured Town to name Rose and Reed to get
dozens of child molestation charges against her dropped.Town entered an
Alford plea to two counts of child rape in 1994, but was released from prison
after agreeing to a deal with prosecutors.She entered an Alford plea to one
count of child molestation and dropped the appeal of her original convictions
in exchange for her release from prison. In an Alford plea, a defendant
maintains their innocence, but concedes they would likely be convicted at
trial.Gene Town pleaded guilty to two counts of child molestation and two
counts of child rape in 1994. The alleged victims were his two children.
He claimed Perez pressured him to sign a confession and said prosecutors
withheld information indicating his children were not abused. He was freed
from prison in June after entering an Alford plea to a misdemeanor.
Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen said he agreed not to fight to keep Rose
in prison because witnesses would not be able to testify at the special
hearing and the judge scheduled to preside over the hearing had already ruled
twice that Perez's interview methods were improper.Rose, who plans to file a
civil suit, said when questions arose about the sex-abuse cases, Riesen
should have "reevaluated the situation," perhaps offering some of those who
had been convicted new trials.
Riesen declined to discuss Rose's guilt or innocence. "The jury heard the
evidence in this case and that's what we go on," he said.Rose said he
received a letter from Town about two and a half years after he went to
prison where she recanted her allegations against him, and he said she was
prepared to recant her testimony. Town could not be reached for comment.In
prison, Rose said he often feared being attacked. Other prisoners, he said,
shunned those convicted of rape and molestation, especially those who hurt
Rose's Department of Correction records show he got into two fights -- one of
which he said was started when another inmate called him a child molester.
Rose said in both cases the other inmate attacked him and he was defending
Rose was punished for his involvement in the two fights.Rose said he placed
himself in protective custody, staying in a cell by himself, while he was at
the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla to avoid being a target for
other prisoners. At the last prison Rose served time at, Twin Rivers
Corrections Center, he shared a cell in a unit for sex offenders."I'm strong.
I can fight.
But I cannot fight 100 people, and you can't constantly look behind your back
and think someone is going to stab you," Rose said.In his cell, he said he
read his Bible, drew a little and exercised. One year, he did 150,000
push-ups. He lost 80 pounds. His infrequent dreams were of being outside,
camping in a forest. But he did not keep track of how many days he'd been in
prison. "Just one day at a time," he said.
Katherine Schiffner can be reached at 664-7155 or by e-mail at