KENNEWICK, WA - Sheriff Jerry Hatcher says he will be taking a step back from his day-to-day operations at the sheriff's office until the case against him is resolved.
He says at this time he is not resigning, only stepping away for the time being.
Interim Commander Tom Croskrey will be in charge of the daily operations of the sheriff's office in Sheriff Hatcher's stead.
10-7-19 ORIGINAL STORY:
KENNEWICK, WA — On Wednesday, October 9, a Spokane County deputy prosecutor filed criminal charges against Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher. This comes after his wife, Monica Hatcher, filed for divorce on September 18 and accused him of strangling her during a fight over his alleged extramarital affair.
Deputy prosecutor G. Mark Cipolla filed a felony charge of tampering with a witness and a gross misdemeanor charge of fourth degree assault in Benton County Superior Court - the misdemeanor charge stemming from December 13, 2017. Sheriff Hatcher will enter a plea to these charges on October 23.
Court documents say that on December 13, 2017, Monica confronted Jerry with phone and text records of his affair with Lisa Rector Thomas, who is currently running for Richland City Council. Monica had been aware of their affair throughout 2017 - when Jerry was running for Benton County Sheriff - and had confronted him multiple times before December 13.
According to Monica, when she confronted him with the evidence, Jerry physically assaulted Monica by choking her. She states in court documents that Jerry has become "increasingly scary and unpredictable" towards her since that day. They have lived in separate homes since September 15, 2019.
According to court documents, Monica also claims that Jerry told her to make false statements to protect him from losing his job and to prevent possible criminal charges. Court documents say that on October 3, 2019, Jerry drafted a statement on her behalf in his cell phone before making her type it and falsely submit it to the prosecuting attorney as her own. This is related to the felony charge of tampering with a witness.
On Friday, October 4, Monica was granted her request for a temporary protection order against Jerry, claiming she is a victim of domestic violence and asking that her husband be required to surrender all weapons and concealed pistol licenses. He must also move out of their home and stay at least 1,000 feet from Monica when she is at home or work. They have been married since 2011.
NBC Right Now spoke with Sheriff Hatcher over the phone on Wednesday, October 9th, and he confirmed the charges and the affair.
To avoid personal conflict with the case due to his relationship with Sheriff Hatcher, Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Miller contacted Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste, who assigned the case to detectives from outside the Tri-Cities. Larry Haskell with the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office will also work with state patrol in this investigation.