Suspect in multiple child rapes set to enter guilty plea

Theron Heideman during a 2018 court appearance.

WENATCHEE — A Peshastin man accused of sexually abusing four children over the course of 20 years is scheduled to enter a guilty plea next month.

Details of any plea agreement have yet to be finalized, but Theron Jay Heideman, 54, is set to go before a Chelan County Superior Court judge July 28 to resolve the 14 counts of child rape and sexual abuse, involving four victims, that have kept him jailed for the last three years.

Heideman was the subject of police and social services investigations for years before his arrest in 2017. In those initial probes, which began in 1999 while Heideman was living in Wenatchee, police and social services agencies said children in his family would sometimes disclose claims of abuse, then withdraw the allegations or contradict each other. He was never charged.

The current case was launched after alleged victims began coming forward in February 2017. Chelan County sheriff’s deputies arrested Heideman the following month, and he’s remained in jail on $100,000 bond ever since.

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

Deputy prosecutor Julia Hartnell said today she would not comment on ongoing plea negotiations, and Heideman’s attorney, Jon Volyn, couldn’t be reached for comment. The defendant is charged with four counts of first-degree child rape, two in the second degree, three counts of child molestation and five counts of incest. In Washington, a single conviction for first-degree child rape alone can yield a minimum nine years in prison.