Police agencies, prosecutor decline abuse allegations against Sequim couple

SEQUIM — No charges will be filed against a Sequim elementary school administrator and her husband after law enforcement in Clallam and Whatcom counties investigated allegations of abuse of foster children.

Allegations were made last summer that Francis and Shelley Jefferson abused their three unnamed foster children.

Sequim Police Deputy Chief Mike Hill said the Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file criminal charges against Shelley Jefferson. Detective Sgt. Richard Hart said the Lummi Nation Police Department has closed its case after investigating Francis Jefferson.

He said that an allegation in that jurisdiction was unfounded and that other alleged incidents occurred in Sequim.

Interviews took place in the two jurisdictions, Hill said, because the Jeffersons maintained homes in Sequim and on Lummi Nation in Whatcom County.

Originally, abuse allegations of three juvenile brothers — two were age 12, one age 15 — were reported to Lummi Nation Police on Aug. 7, Sequim Police report.

The brothers were placed into the Jeffersons’ care by Child Protective Services (CPS) in late 2019 and later placed into a family member’s care after the allegations were reported, Hill said.

Nancy Gutierrez, interim director of communications for Washington’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, had no comment when asked if the agency were investigating the allegations.

Investigation

Shelley Jefferson, the assistant principal at Helen Haller Elementary, was placed on leave as is the protocol during any investigation and remains on leave, Sequim School District officials report.

She notified former superintendent Rob Clark of the allegations on Aug. 11, 2020.

The 2020-2021 academic year would have been her third school year in Sequim.

Jane Pryne, interim Sequim School District superintendent, said the district has remained in communication with the Sequim Police Department during the police investigation. She did not say if the district was conducting its own investigation.

She also said the district “is not able to share information with the public regarding the status of Ms. Jefferson’s employment.”

Jefferson earns a salary of about $9,625 per month, school district officials previously confirmed.

Asked for comment, Shelley Jefferson said she had none at this time.

Records requests through the City of Sequim were denied because juveniles were involved and because no criminal offense was committed, under Multiple Revised Codes of Washington (RCW).

Interviews were done by Sequim Police, Lummi Nation Police and a Child Protective Services social worker over allegations of severe discipline, mistreatment, rough-housing that escalated, and assault, Hill said.

Hill reported that Sequim Police received Lummi Nation Police’s final report on Jan. 26, and conducted additional investigation into two specific incidents that may have occurred in Sequim.

Everyone interviewed denied any abuse or neglect occurred in interviews, Hill said.

Sequim Police previously confirmed Shelley Jefferson was the legal foster parent for the three boys and that she and Francis had one biological child. The three foster children were enrolled in Sequim School District last school year.

Sequim Police in early February requested that the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s office review the case, including multiple police reports, witness statements, CPS records, photographs and interviews, Hill said.

Two deputy prosecuting attorneys and Clallam County prosecutor Mark Nichols determined the allegations did not rise to the level of criminal activity within Clallam County or the City of Sequim, Hill said.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]. He has family employed by and enrolled in Sequim School District.

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