The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Herrington trial ends in deadlock


A jury of five women and seven men deliberating in the Rosser (Ross) Herrington child molestation trial in Goldendale Friday morning concluded that they could not reach a unanimous decision.

Judge Brian Altman polled each juror upon their return to the courtroom at 11:35 Friday morning. “Are you confident that if I sent you back to deliberate for another 20 minutes or so,” he asked some jurors, “you would remain deadlocked?”

“Absolutely,” was the most common reply. One juror’s response thinly suggested that deliberations had been heated. None of the jurors approached by The Sentinel would comment on what happened during deliberation, though another source speaking on condition of anonymity indicated that four members of the jury were intractably convinced of Herrington’s guilt while the other eight felt either unable to make up their minds or that the evidence for guilt was insufficient.

After polling, Altman told the jury he was not surprised that they were deadlocked. “This is a very difficult case,” he said. “Please don’t feel disappointed that you couldn’t reach a verdict.” He then dismissed the hung jury.

Soon after, in the silence of the once-crowded courtroom, Herrington stood alone for a time. Asked about the experience, he welled up with emotion and said the occasion was sad for both sides of the family, the one making the accusations and the one defending against them—and for the community as a whole.

A family member of the accusing side told The Sentinel the outcome was not surprising but very disappointing. “The prosecutor absolutely did not do his job,” she said. Representing the Prosecuting Attorney’s office in the trial was Deputy Prosecutor Brian Aaron.

Herrington was originally arrested on four counts of child molestation in the first degree. The complex case arose from allegations by Kadee Herrington, widow of Ross Herrington’s son Tom and mother of two daughters. Kadee Herrington accused Ross of molesting the girls during times when the two were left in their grandparents’ care. Charges against Herrington for molestation of the younger daughter were dropped at the start of the trial, with charges against him remaining only for molestation of the older girl.

The trial began last Wednesday with a flurry of motions, video, and initial testimony as the prosecution opened its case. Herrington’s defense attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges altogether because of lack of evidence, the first of several motions to dismiss, all of which were denied by Altman.

Wednesday the court watched a video of testimony by the Herrington children to health professionals of their experiences with Ross Herrington. In it they referenced allegations repeated Thursday by their mother in court.

Kadee Herrington’s testimony in court that day was at the heart of the prosecution’s case. She testified that after certain stays at the Ross Herrington home, her daughter could not be washed because of pain around her groin. When Kadee asked why it was painful, she told the court her daughter answered, “Because of what Papa does.” “Papa” was how the children referred to Ross. More graphic testimony was recounted that made some spectators visibly uncomfortable. Her testimony closed the prosecution’s case.

After Kadee’s testimony and cross-examination, Herrington’s defense attorney made a new motion to dismiss. “Your honor, there is not one shred of evidence indicated in this testimony that Ross Herrington derived sexual gratification, which is what would make this action criminal,” he said.

Prosecutor Aaron responded that sexual gratification was not a requisite condition for child molestation. Pushing the issue further, he referred to the more graphic detail recounted by Kadee Herrington.

“I’m shocked that the state could say sexual gratification is not required,” Scott countered.

Altman dismissed Scott’s motion, saying the jury was allowed to cherry pick among the evidence presented in the trial and that the case was definitely going to jury.

Janette Herrington, Ross’ wife of more than four decades, then testified as the defense presented its case. She stated she first learned of Kadee Herrington’s accusations on Feb. 28, 2014. Between that Friday and the following Monday, Janette said she repeatedly tried to get more information. On Monday Kadee responded with a text saying the authorities had been notified.

“If I thought Ross had done this,” Janette stated, “I would have called the cops myself. I wanted to get to the bottom of this.” Asked about this comment later, she clarified that her intent was to quickly establish Ross’ innocence and put the matter behind them.

Scott then called Ross Herrington to the stand. He asked Herrington to provide some background on his early life and his military service. Herrington said he had a top secret clearance when he was in the Navy.

Scott asked Herrington about games he and his granddaughter played together. He said they often played a “poking” game in which he would walk his fingers up her back or on her ribs, as if counting them; both enjoyed the game greatly, he said.

Moving to the most urgent questioning, Scott asked Herrington: “Did you ever touch [her] in an inappropriate way?”

“Absolutely not,” Herrington answered. He repeated that answer to two additional questions of a more graphic nature.

During cross examination, Aaron asked Herrington whether or not he and his wife ever bathed the children when they were at their home. He said yes, adding he did not actually wash the girls himself. Aaron asked if Herrington gave them baths or showers; Herrington answered showers. He added that during those times his wife was always right outside the shower and that he never touched the girl. “Most often she would just come to the shower and want to come in, then she’d just stay long enough to get her hair wet.”

Scott rebutted that the testimony about showering was not directly related to the charges at hand, though the testimony was not stricken.

Closing arguments were made Thursday afternoon, after which the jury was sent to deliberation. At 9:30 a.m. Friday they entered the courtroom again long enough for Altman to send them out for deliberation again. At 11:35 they returned with their announcement of deadlock.


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