The father of a six-year-old girl missing for days in Washington was accused of molestation in 2000, an official said Wednesday, adding that the dad's past criminal history is "something that we're not focusing on."
Jenise Wright disappeared from her home near Bremerton, Washington, over the weekend, prompting an intense search. The girl's parents, who say they didn't call 911 for 24 hours because she had wandered away from home, were ordered to take lie detector tests earlier in the week.
On Wednesday, reports surfaced that James Wright, Jenise's father, had been accused of molestation. NBC News affiliate KING5 in Seattle reported he was accused of molesting an 8-year-old relative and assaulting a 15-year-old babysitter in January 2000. Wright entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and the molestation charge was dropped; he pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor assault, KING reported. "We're aware of the charge and we're aware that it was a conviction," Kitsap County deputy Scott Wilson said at a news conference. "That has nothing to do with this investigation right now." He added that officials were continuing to speak with both of Jenise's parents. "I can't emphasize enough how cooperative they both have been with law enforcement authorities in the course of this investigation."
Specialized search dogs will be arriving later Wednesday. "We're hoping she's fine, and that's the expectation we have," Wilson said.
— Elizabeth Chuck