Jessica Washburn’s mother, Heather Chandler, continues to believe her husband never sexually assaulted his stepdaughter, and says despite Washburn’s assertions, her daughter never told her she was being sexually abused.
Keith Chandler – Washburn’s stepfather and Heather Chandler’s husband – was convicted of nine counts of sexual assault in April, and was sentenced in May to a minimum of 17½ years in prison. He is appealing his conviction.
“She never told me any of this was going on,” Heather Chandler said in a phone interview Thursday. “Never.”
She said this is the third time her daughter has claimed someone sexually assaulted her, and, “The first one I took immediate action and brought her right down to the police station.”
That resulted in a trial in which the accused was acquitted. There was no prosecution in the third instance.
“You know who she was clinging to the whole time? Keith Chandler,” Heather Chandler said. “She was clinging to him for support, yet he sexually assaulted her?
"They had a great relationship. They hung out together. They even went fishing.”
Chandler said her husband is “not this monster that everyone’s making him out to be.”
Keith Chandler still loves his stepdaughter, Heather said, and sometimes wonders aloud why he was accused.
“We weren’t a perfect family,” she said, “but it wasn’t what everybody’s made it out to be.”
Chandler said that, had Washburn told her she was being sexually abused by her stepfather, “believe me, if I knew something like this was going on I would be the one in jail – for murder.”
She believes her husband was wrongly convicted by a jury that considered evidence it was instructed not to take into account.
“That’s the only reason he’s sitting in prison right now,” she said. “I think the jury was completely wrong. He doesn’t deserve to be sitting where he is right now.”
Meanwhile, Chandler and Washburn said they have taken some steps to repair their relationship after a period of estrangement.
“I told her,” Chandler said, “the only ones who are going to know what really happened are you and Keith.”