THE WENATCHEE WORLD
MAN CONVICTED OF CHILD RAPE SEEKS NEW TRIAL
By Stephen Maher
WENATCHEE - A man convicted of child rape in 1995 after being implicated during the infamous Tour of Homes is seeking a new trial, saying new evidence proves his innocence.
In papers filed last week with the state Court of Appeals, Ralph Gausvik claims authorities manufactured accusations, a doctor misled jurors and his public defender never investigated the case.
Gausvik, 43, was pulled into the investigations in 1995 when an alleged victim toured Wenatchee and East Wenatchee and identified his home as one of 25 where she and other children had been sexually abused.
Gausvik was found guilty by a Chelan County jury in November 1995 of four counts of child rape and two counts of child molestation involving three of his children. Two of the convictions were later thrown out because prosecutors added the charges on the eve of the trial, after failing to persuade Gausvik to accept a plea deal.
He is serving a 21-year, eight-month prison sentence at the Airway Heights Correctional Center near Spokane.
The new filing brings to four the number of people now appealing convictions obtained during the 1994-95 Wenatchee child sex-abuse investigations. Since 1998, the Court of Appeals has found nine people were wrongfully convicted during the probe. Five others have been released from prison after agreeing to plea bargains with Chelan County prosecutors.
This case represents a total breakdown of the criminal justice and judicial processes from investigation, through accusation and conviction, wrote Gausviks attorneys, Robert Rosenthal of New York City and Alyse Collins of Seattle. Evidence of the perversion of the criminal justice system in pursuit of ambition and convictions at any cost is vivid in the details of this case.
Rosenthal and Collins are members of Innocence Project Northwest, a legal group that has been filing appeals for people convicted during the sex-abuse investigations.
Gausviks name first surfaced in March 1995 when Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez drove his foster daughter around Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. During the trip, dubbed The Tour of Homes, the girl was told to pick out places where she and other children had been sexually abused. The girl pointed to 25 homes that day. Gausvik and his longtime girlfriend, Barbara Garass, lived in one of the homes.
They were arrested three months later, following interviews of their children by Perez. Authorities initially claimed they were part of two sex-rings - one based at a Pentecostal church in East Wenatchee run by Pastor Roby Roberson and the other at the Harold and Idella Everett home on Cashmere Street. Gausvik, an unemployed laborer, and Garass lived across the street from the Everetts. Perezs foster daughter was one of the Everett children. The couple were never charged with abusing the Perez foster daughter.
Garass accepted a deal from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to two counts of incest. She served a 26-month sentence and was released. The couples parental rights were terminated in 1995. Their four children remain in foster care.
During Gausviks trial, Prosecutor Gary Riesen told jurors the Gausvik-Garass home was dysfunctional and the site of loud beer-and-drug parties. Riesen said the testimony from the children was overwhelming. He said they couldnt remember details because theyd likely blocked out bad memories.
Citing new evidence, Gausvik claims his conviction rested on unreliable and false information. The appeal says his children were subjected to multiple interviews, called liars when they denied abuse and given rewards in exchange for allegations. The allegations were made only in interviews in which Perez participated, the appeal states. One child is developmentally disabled.
Gausvik says trial testimony from Dr. Jim Jantzen, who asserted medical exams showed the children had likely been raped, was misleading, wrong and based on long discarded medical theories. An internationally recognized expert has since examined the same records and found no signs of abuse.
Gausvik says the state failed to record the interviews with the children, thereby denying him his due process rights.
In addition, Gausvik claims his court-appointed attorney, Jeff Barker, did little to prepare for the trial, conceded to the jury the children were victims, never cross-examined Perez, and never called witnesses to challenge Jantzens testimony or Perezs methods. In his closing arguments, Barker told jurors physical evidence of abuse existed.
Gausvik was one of 21 people convicted during the 1994-95 investigations carried out largely by Wenatchee police, state social workers and Chelan County prosecutors. Forty-three people were arrested on nearly 30,000 counts of rape and molestation. Many were developmentally disabled, illiterate and poor.
The true depth of the depraved condition of our justice system is incomprehensible and reprehensible. It's well beyond words to attempt to describe the rage which engulfs you when you think about the children and families and fathers who were destroyed in order to "protect" them from themselves. It's the kind of thing that makes this Vietnam vetaran, and son of a WWII veteran, and grandson of a World War One veteran, believe that a lot of blood was spilt for nothing. While we were on foreign shores fighting enemies with tanks and guns and missiles and torpedoes, the true enemies were our alleged brothers at home, busily brainwashing our weak and our poor and our mentally disabled and our children, for the express purpose of gaining promotion and fame, all the while in a state of denial that their LIES were causing the destruction of the American family and causing a thousand times more damage than the "crimes" they were prosecuting could ever have caused, even if they were 100% true. That so many judges, jurors, lawyers, prosecutors, defense attornies, doctors, and other professionals could be duped by a 13 year old girl, or could believe such outlandish fairy tales from a witness of *any* age, makes it embarassing just to be an American. That all convictions in this case haven't been vacated, that the true victims haven't been compensated, and that the true criminals haven't yet been buried under the nation's prisons, must make Thomas Jefferson turn over in his grave.
If every single outlandish tale from these children had been 100% true (a preposterous proposition to any thinking American), the damages which would have been done to the alleged victims would have been a drop in the bucket compared to the damages caused to those victims by making a federal case out of it and exposing them to a life of embarassment, before even considering what happens to children who are removed from their fathers. Permitting so many children to grow up fatherless starts a chain reaction which lasts for centuries and costs society millions or billions of dollars. But a nation which would allow parents to be unlawfully incarcerated based on such fragile fairy tales from children, whether they are innocent or guilty, is a nation which is more guilty of a thousand times as many high crimes as those parents could ever have been in totality. It's the moral equivalent of killing a mosquito with an atom bomb and ignoring the collateral damage to humanity.
IF any of these parents had been guilty of even ONE of these "crimes", the morally responsible response, the one which intelligent justice systems from China to Africa would have pursued, the one described in the Holy Bible, would have been to ask Pastor Roby to talk to them--and end the matter right there, on the spot. To give criminals like Robert Perez a gun and a badge and a right to arrest is HIS fault as much as it is the department which hired him.