There Was a Reason She Couldn't Recall Being Molested

Inside a case of wrongful conviction
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2017 4:00 PM CDT

"Why don't I feel like I've been molested?" It's not a question a child should ever ask of herself, but it was one Katie Spencer found herself contemplating during her middle school years. Her father, Ray, was serving two life sentences for molesting her; her brother, Matt; and her step-brother. It all started with her, or, more specifically, Ray's second wife, Shirley. In August 1984 she told Ray, then a Washington state police officer, that while he was out of town then-5-year-old Katie tried to put her hand under Shirley's robe, saying, "I'm trying to touch your pee-pee," something she did with "daddy." Shirley was horrified, as was Ray upon hearing her story. He says he wondered if "daddy" was a reference to one of ex-wife DeAnne's boyfriends. He went so far as to take his concerns to police—only to end up arrested himself, reports the Marshall Project and Esquire.

That was thanks in large part to Clark County Sheriff's Office investigator Sharon Krause, who interviewed the children several times. The accusations were extreme: Matt, for instance, said he was raped by Ray and his fellow cops. It was only when Katie was 12 that she got up the courage to tell then-16-year-old Matt she just didn't remember the abuse. "You don't remember because it didn't happen," she recalls him telling her. But this isn't a story of a wrongly accused man's children helping to set him free after 20 years in prison—clemency was granted by the governor in 2004 based on a rash of shortcomings in the evidence—but about how Katie and Matt slowly resurrected their relationship with Ray afterward, and then helped him win $9 million for his wrongful conviction. Read the full story here. (More wrongful conviction stories.)

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