Lacey man gets at least 18 years for child rape`
Daughter: Wife will be sentenced later this month
OLYMPIA - A Thurston County judge sentenced a 51-year-old Lacey man to 18 years to life in prison Thursday for raping his 8-year-old adopted daughter.
Eddy Tony Whisenhunt and his wife, Donna Marie Whisenhunt, were each arrested in May after their adopted daughter told a school counselor that her parents had sexually abused her, court papers state.
Eddy Whisenhunt, a former bus driver for Intercity Transit, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree child rape in December as part of a plea deal.
Donna Whisenhunt, 47, also has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree child rape as part of a plea deal. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.
Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Skinder said that because of Eddy Whisenhunt’s crimes, after he serves his 18-year prison sentence, the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board will review the case to see whether he is eligible for release. Skinder said it’s possible that Eddy Whisenhunt will spend the rest of his life in prison because the review board might not approve his release.
The child was adopted by the Lacey couple shortly after her birth in China, Lacey police have said. The sexual abuse of the child occurred over a four-year period, court papers state. The Whisenhunts have each told Lacey police that they were unaware that the other was engaging in sexual abuse of the daughter, Lacey Police Lt. Jim Mack has said.
Skinder said Thursday that the case has had a negative effect on adoptions to the United States out of China, because the Chinese government is aware of the sexual abuse. Skinder added, “This is one of those truly heartbreaking cases.”
The child was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, a social worker for the state spoke about the effect the Whisenhunts’ crimes have had on the child.
The child “is a bright and curious little girl, but she is unable to devote all of her cognitive efforts to her schoolwork,” reads social worker Becky Taylor’s written statement submitted to the court. “Instead, she needs to spend considerable time absorbing and processing the terrible things that have happened to her. She struggles to unlearn behaviors and beliefs that Eddy and Donna Whisenhunt presented to her as normal, and then to learn what is truly normal and acceptable in terms of relationships, age-appropriate behavior, and boundaries, all the while still trying to learn the skills and subject matter being taught in the third grade.”
The Whisenhunts’ crimes have had a “hugely detrimental effect” on the child’s education and development, the statement continues.
“She has lost a child’s innocent belief that her parents could be counted on to teach her what is right,” Taylor’s statement continues. “Her grief and confusion are raw and wrenching to witness.”
Eddy Whisenhunt’s sentence includes a requirement that he register as a sex offender and remain under the state Department of Corrections’ community custody supervision for the rest of his life after his release from prison.
Skinder said the girl is thriving in her new home.