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Incest suspect pleads innocent

Each parent accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old Sequim girl faces different charges and court conditions following court appearances last week.

The mother, Gail Elaine Smith, walked into court to face molestation and incest charges wearing everyday attire, a hooded sweater and scarf.

She had posted $10,000 in on Jan. 12 and was released to a residence just north of Sequim.

The girl's stepfather, Russell Jeffry Rees, entered the courtroom two days later on child rape and incest charges in a bright orange jumpsuit and restraint chains, escorted by Clallam County Sheriff's deputies.

Rees was unable to post the $100,000 bail set by Judge George Wood. Rees' higher bail was due to multiple criminal counts and the severity of the felony charges.

Smith, 39, of Sequim, also was known as Gail Rees but is awaiting a divorce from Rees, 34, who resides in a separate home in Sequim.

Rees pleaded not guilty to all charges while in court. Smith's plea was delayed due to a conflict with her legal representation.

Rees' charges stem from allegations he sexually assaulted his stepdaughter when she was 5.

Smith's charges originate from Internet-based videos found of her and her daughter in sexually inappropriate scenarios.



Child porn

Judge S. Brooke Taylor said the Clallam County Public Defender's office could not represent both Smith and Rees, so private attorney Brian Coughenour was appointed to Smith's defense. Smith has yet to enter a plea in response to her Clallam County Superior Court charges of first-degree child molestation, the sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree incest and dealing with depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

She is likely to enter a plea at her arraignment on Friday, Jan. 23.

According to Clallam County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Lyman Moores, he was investigating a reported child rape involving Rees and his stepchild, Smith's biological daughter, when he discovered four compact discs reportedly containing child pornography.

Court documents report the videos show Smith "engaged in sexually explicit acts with (the 9-year-old)." The child's name is withheld because she is a minor.

The documents say Smith was sending the videos to at least one man in Georgia and that a fifth compact disc contained text messages between Smith and the man.

Smith reportedly told the arresting deputy she knew what she did was wrong but didn't think it was a very big deal and that she hoped to get as much information about the Georgia man as possible because she believed him to be an Internet predator.

"We've made contact with the FBI and they are aware of our investigations and may take the lead in any investigation into the Georgia man," Moores said.

Smith's molestation charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $50,000 fine.



Child rape

At his Jan. 7 hearing, Rees was charged with first-degree rape of a child, first-degree incest and first-degree child molestation.

But after his second hearing on Jan. 14, he received additional charges of possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Rees' initial charges stem from a 2003 incident. The girl was 5 years old at the time. Although she and Rees are not blood relatives, the alleged actions sustained a first-degree incest charge. The new charges originate from the videos deputies reportedly found at his home.

The rape and molestation charge carry a maximum sentence of life in prison with $50,000 in fines each.

Rees has a tentative trial date set for March 9 and a review hearing scheduled for Feb. 13.

Both Rees and Smith have protection orders that prohibit them from coming within 1,000 feet of the alleged victim.

Smith has additional conditions of refraining from coming into contact with anyone under the age of 18.



Reach Evan McLean at

emclean@sequimgazette.com



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