Child abuse suspect set for trial on 14 charges

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Sexual abuse defendant Theron J. Heideman in a Chelan County Superior Court hearing.

WENATCHEE — First it was four charges, then nine, then 11. Now, 53-year-old Theron Heideman faces 14 counts of child sexual abuse, involving four victims over more than a dozen years.

Chelan County prosecutors filed amended charges Wednesday against the Peshastin man, who’s been jailed awaiting trial since spring 2017. Heideman has been suspected of abusing youngsters in multiple child welfare investigations throughout the early 2000s, but sheriff’s deputies said they lacked evidence to seek charges until alleged victims began coming forward three years ago.

Investigators said in investigations by police and social workers that started in 1999, children in Heideman’s family would sometimes disclose claims of abuse, then withdraw the allegations or contradict each other.

But three of his adult children sued the state Department of Social and Health Services, saying investigations into their own abuse by Heideman were mishandled. They won a $2.5 million settlement from the agency in 2018. DSHS did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement.

Heideman has remained incarcerated on $100,000 bond in the Chelan County Regional Justice Center while attorneys feuded over evidence, including medical records. He is now scheduled for trial in late February.