KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher is facing criminal charges following allegations that he strangled his wife, according to the Benton County Superior Court Clerk's Office.
The clerk's office confirmed Wednesday that prosecutors have filed charges of fourth-degree assault (domestic violence) and tampering with a witness. He is scheduled to appear in court on October 23.
Law enforcement began investigating domestic abuse allegations against the sheriff when his wife, Monica Hatcher, filed for divorce on Sept. 18.
According to court documents obtained by 4 News Now partner KAPP-KVEW, Monica said her husband choked her on two separate occasions -- once during an argument in 2015 and again in when she confronted him about an alleged affair December 2017 with a woman named Lisa Rector Thomas, who's currently running for Richland City Council.
Monica said in the second alleged assault, her husband became angry after she presented him with "months of phone and text records" proving the affair. She provided photos to investigators of injuries that she claims were from the incident.
The abuse allegation was first disclosed to Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin on Sept. 16. The commissioner brought it to the attention of Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Miller.
Delvin and Miller interviewed Monica about the allegation on Sept. 18 for roughly an hour.
On Oct. 3, Monica said Jerry wrote a statement recanting the allegations for her to submit to the prosecutor's office and an investigating sergeant. She said Jerry had gone out of town, but kept calling her to check if she'd sent the statement via email.
When she disclosed this, Miller and the sergeant advised her to send the email in order to deescalate the situation.
During an interview with detectives, Sheriff Hatcher denied his wife's allegations. He said she "had vivid dreams and took a large amount of medications including opiates," court documents say.
Monica Hatcher filed for divorce on Sept. 18 and obtained a protection order against her husband on Oct. 4. The couple has been married since August 2011.
A special prosecutor from the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office is handling the case.
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