Olympia - November 18, 1999- A former Pend Oreille County District Court judge was charged late Wednesday with fourth degree assault stemming from an alleged incident in which a woman was sexually assaulted by him at his lake cabin.
On Aug. 25, 1998, the former judge, Charles Baechler, a resident of Newport, allegedly invited Rhonda Maslonka to his cabin at Diamond Lake. Maslonka had appeared in his courtroom on Aug. 20 on DUI and hit and run charges, and appeared again on Aug. 25 to enter her plea. After serving her with separation papers filed by her husband, Maslonka said Baechler offered to let her stay at the cabin while she looked for a place to live. The assault allegedly took place at the cabin.
Fourth degree assault is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine, plus costs, restitution and assessments.
The investigation was conducted by the Washington State Patrol, and was referred to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution at the request of the Pend Oreille County Prosecuting Attorney.