70-Year-Old Man In Kennewick Arrested for Molesting Young Girls - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

70-Year-Old Man In Kennewick Arrested for Molesting Young Girls

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KENNEWICK, WA - A 70-year-old man from Kennewick is in the Benton County Jail on charges of child molestation Police arrested Vernon Gillett on Tuesday at his home on the 7300 block of Bonnie Place, after a investigation that began in July.

Officers say Gillett made contact with multiple young girls, ages 3 to 13, and with a handwritten notes, would ask for sex in exchange for money and other gifts. Police say Gillett's young victims live in Kennewick, as well as Adams, Walla Walla and Yakima Counties.

NBC Right Now met with a mother who says Gillett wrote a note offering to pay her young daughter for sex. We also met Gillett’s ex-wife who says she doesn't believe it. Police tell us there's no question that this man touched young girls.

"There are definitely more victims out there in the whole region, not just in Kennewick," said Sgt. Ken Lattin from the Kennewick Police Department.

"I don't believe it. I don't believe it. It's lies, it's all lies. They're just trying to prosecute him for nothing," said Virginia Hill who was married to the man for 17 years.

Hill says after fathering his son she couldn't ever imagine Gillett ever touching the girls even though police say they have substantial evidence to back the claims up. She did admit he had tried to befriend children in the neighborhood but she didn't think it was anything more than that.

"This is a wonderful trailer park to live at. I hope it doesn't get a bad rep," explained Christine Sanchez who lives just across from Gillett.

Sanchez says she's never heard of anything like this happening in the neighborhood. When we asked how she felt about living so close to the man she explained, "It kind of freaks me out a bit. He was a really, really nice man, a veteran and he talked about going to church. I mean we're all sinners but he was a really sweet man."

Other neighbors tell us they weren't as convinced. They watched him hanging around the nearby park standing awkwardly close to kids as they played.

"We all have our demons I guess and he just kept his very well hid," said Sanchez.

“He's definitely a serial child molester just based on the evidence we have so far. Today the community, the whole region is safer having him behind bars," said Lattin.

Gillett now sits in the Benton County jail charged with child molestation in the 2nd degree. Police say the investigation is still on going as they search for more possible victims.

If you know anything that could help investigators or you'd like to confidentially report anything you can call 509-586-TIPS (8477).


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