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Originally published May 8, 2013 at 9:40 PM | Page modified May 8, 2013 at 10:43 PM

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Senator failed to report sex abuse of child

State Sen. Brian Hatfield did not contact authorities after his wife discovered his 15-year-old son sexually abusing a younger child in February, according to documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court last month.

Seattle Times staff reporters

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State Sen. Brian Hatfield did not contact authorities after his wife discovered his 15-year-old son sexually abusing a younger child in February, according to documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court last month.

Hatfield’s son pleaded guilty in juvenile court this week to four counts of child molestation and four counts of rape of a child for abuse that occurred over several months.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote in an email Wednesday night that he sees no basis to charge Hatfield or his wife for not reporting the February incident.

Hatfield, D-Raymond, Pacific County, did not return messages seeking comment.

A statement released by his attorney, Christine Beckwith, said the senator consulted with her after the incident and had been planning to contact the authorities, as well as put his son in therapy.

But Hatfield hadn’t done that before the victim triggered an investigation by reporting the abuse to elementary-school officials on April 24, according to a report filed by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The victim told authorities that the abuse began last November and escalated earlier this year, the report said.

Many of the incidents occurred in the senator’s Raymond home, but the February incident took place in Chehalis, Lewis County, and officials there handled the prosecution.

The family maintains homes in both towns, the report said.

The abuse ended when Hatfield’s wife, Jacqueline, walked in on the Feb. 14 incident, according to the report. That day, the victim told Jacqueline Hatfield of similar incidents in the past, but did not disclose the entirety of the abuse, the report said.

Beckwith, the attorney, wrote in her statement that Jacqueline Hatfield “witnessed some inappropriate behavior” and told her husband.

The Hatfields have kept the children apart since then, the Sheriff’s Office report said.

Beckwith wrote that the senator never received information “that would trigger a legal requirement for him to report any conduct to legal authorities.”

State law requires adults to report if they have reasonable cause to believe a child who resides with them has suffered severe abuse, including sexual abuse that causes significant physical injury.

It is unclear if the younger child was living with the Hatfields during the abuse.

The couple married last year. Brian Hatfield’s first wife died in 2007.

Beckwith’s statement noted that death as among “several catastrophic losses” in the 15-year-old’s life.

“His extremely difficult childhood is a contributing factor in this case, and is not an uncommon history of other juvenile offenders,” Beckwith wrote.

Plea documents indicate that officials will recommend the boy be sentenced to 30 days in custody and two years of sex-offender counseling, among other provisions.

Another hearing is scheduled for June 18.

Hatfield is chairman of the state Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee.

He was first elected to the state House in 1994 and then appointed to the state Senate in 2006. He won re-election last November with 62 percent of the vote.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @brianmrosenthal

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