A Richland man is locked up on eight counts of rape involving four children.
Jeffrey M. Lassiter, 44, pleaded innocent Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court to the eight charges of first-degree rape of a child.
Each count includes the aggravating circumstance that he was in a position of trust for the three girls and one boy.
A trial date was set for Sept. 23.
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The mother of two victims went to the Richland Police Department on July 30, according to court documents. One child told police about Lassiter’s inappropriate contact and that he “knew it was wrong.”
Investigators then learned about at least two of the other victims.
The mother said she confronted Lassiter and he allegedly replied, “It was a mistake.”
When interviewed by Cpl. Hyrum Stohel and Detective Sgt. Carmen Ver Steeg, the suspect recalled two times over the past three years when he was around the four children while they all were nude, court documents said.
He admitted inappropriately touching and raping the girls, documents said.
Then, Lassiter allegedly acknowledged getting aroused in 2013 when he groped two of the kids.
Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Holland told the Herald she does anticipate filing additional charges against Lassiter in the future.
Lassiter was arrested Aug. 3 and booked into the Benton County jail, where he’s held on $400,000 bail.
He has been ordered to have no contact with the four victims, and must stay away from all minors while this case is pending.