Benton County Sheriff Surrenders Firearms Amid Domestic Abuse Allegations
Kennewick, WA – The Benton County sheriff has surrendered his firearms in compliance with a temporary protection order that was filed by his estranged wife.
In her request for the order on Oct. 4, 50-year-old Monica Hatcher alleged that 56-year-old Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher strangled her in December of 2017 after she confronted him about his alleged extramarital affair, the Tri-City Herald reported.
Monica further claimed that, on Oct. 3, Sheriff Hatcher “stood over” her while she cried and forced her to send a false statement to a prosecutor’s office regarding the domestic violence allegations she had made against him.
Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell issued the temporary protection order on Oct. 4.
The Washington State Patrol is handling the ongoing investigation into Monica’s claims against her husband, the Tri-City Herald reported.
A special prosecutor from Spokane County has taken over the case at the request of Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller.
Under the requirements of the temporary protection order, Sheriff Hatcher was required to surrender all dangerous weapons, firearms, and concealed handgun licenses, the Tri-City Herald reported.
He must also stay at least 1,000 feet away from Monica when she is at work or at home.
The sheriff confirmed he turned his firearms over to Kennewick police early on Monday morning.
He also denied the allegations against him and said his wife’s claims are “inflammatory and damaging.”
“I emphatically deny [the allegations] and look forward to the rest of the information coming back out,” Sheriff Hatcher told the Tri-City Herald. “Divorces sometimes are very ugly and it’s extremely painful for people to go through, and I understand as an elected official that mine is going to be public.”
He said he has no plans to leave office.
“I’m not going to go somewhere because I’ve been falsely accused of something,” the sheriff said. “I’ve lived my whole life for this community.”
In her request for the protection order, Monica claimed that she first discovered her husband was having an affair with his social media assistant, Lisa Rector Thomas, during his first campaign for sheriff in 2017.
Monica said she confronted him several times throughout the year about her suspicions, but that everything came to a head on Dec. 13, 2017, when she presented him with “months of phone and text records” related to the alleged affair, the Tri-City Herald reported.
“This resulted in Jerry physically assaulting me by putting both hands around my throat, backing me up multiple feet and forcing me backwards over our bedroom dresser, while continuing to choke me,” Monica wrote in her petition.
Monica claimed that Sheriff Hatcher ultimately released his grip on her neck, and that she told him to never touch her again and that her neck could have been broken.
“If I wanted to hurt you, you’d be dead right now,” he replied, according to Monica.
She also included nine photos that she said showed her injuries from the alleged attack.
The couple continued to live together for nearly nine more months before their separation on Sept. 8, the Tri-City Herald reported.
Monica filed for divorce on Sept. 18, but did not ask the court for a protection order at that time.
They were married in August of 2011 and don’t have children together.
After the divorce filing, Monica claimed Sheriff Hatcher allegedly began showing up at her work and home unannounced.
“[He] has continued to manipulate me into performing anything that he believes will remove his accountability of his behavior,” she claimed.
“His emotional abuse has been an ongoing issue and has caused me years of intimidation,” Monica continued. “Jerry has always made me feel that he was above the law. Until recently, I have been convinced that he was untouchable by law and the only person that could arrest him is the coroner.”
She said that she only made false statements to prosecutors because her husband forced her to, the Tri-City Herald reported.
“Many times I stated that none of this is true and he was making me lie and discredit my integrity, my character all of your personal gain,” Monica wrote in her petition. “I felt that I did not have a choice and upon agreeing and finishing the document, I was then able to leave his home.”
“I feel Jerry’s behavior is continuing to escalate and I am unsure of what his actions will be to stop this investigation,” she added.
A court hearing regarding the temporary protection order has been set for Oct. 15, KEPR reported.