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Father of missing Jenise Wright charged with child molestation in 2000

James Wright, the father of missing six-year-old Jenise Wright, was charged at the turn of the century with the molestation of two girls, ages eight and 15. In December 2001, the father pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge regarding the older of the two girls, according to court documents uncovered by ABC News on Aug. 6. After pleading guilty in Washington’s Whatcom County Superior Court, the molestation charges against Wright were dropped.

James Wright, the father of missing six-year-old Jenise Wright, was charged at the turn of the century with the molestation of two girls, ages eight and 15.
Find Jenise Wright/Facebook

Deputy Scott Wilson with the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office announced at a news conference today that authorities have been aware of those molestation charges made against Wright, but for right now the focus remains on finding Jenise. According to Wilson, the molestation charges have "… nothing to do with this investigation right now.”

Wright was charged in February 2000 with first-degree child molestation after allegedly molesting an 8-year-old girl. Court documents stipulate the girl as telling a case worker and a detective that Wright inappropriately touched her.

More than a year later, in June 2001, the charges were amended to include third-degree child molestation after a 15-year-old girl who was babysitting the girl during New Year's Eve 2000 said that Wright touched her breasts and put his hands down her pants, according to court documents. It was not immediately clear why the molestation charges were dropped.

Wright was sentenced to one year in prison on those charges but ended up with a suspended sentence. Officials will not disclose the results of lie detector tests administered by the FBI and taken by Jenise’s parents yesterday. Wilson also said that the Wright’s home was searched twice since last weekend by “different sets of authorities.” Law enforcement still doesn’t know if Jenise “wandered off or was the victim of an accident, abduction or homicide.”

"Our main issue here is Jenise, getting her returned home to her family safely," Wilson added. Of her parents, he said: "I can't emphasize enough how cooperative that they both have been with law enforcement authorities in the course of this investigation." ~ U.S. News

Jenise was noticed missing on Sunday morning, Aug. 3, but not reported missing from her Bremerton, Washington, home by her parents until that night. The search for the six year old continued today with the FBI heading up the search. Local police “worked through the night” searching the area and questioning residents at Jenise’s mobile home park, according to Fox News.

The search for Jenise now includes more than 100 officials from 10 different law enforcement agencies including an FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team. The FBI released a statement yesterday asking for the public’s help in locating Jenise.

The FBI’s national tip line, 1-800-CALL-FBI, has been activated for this case. We’re asking the public to help investigators by providing any bit of information they have about activity in the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park during the weekend of Friday, August 1 - Sunday, August 3.

Jenise was last seen Saturday night, Aug. 2, when she went to bed. Her parents noticed her missing the next morning but didn’t bother contacting police right away because, according to the parents, the child had left the family home on her own in the past to wander about the neighborhood. Neighbors corroborated that story, saying that they often saw the 6-year-old wandering through the mobile park by herself.

Neighbors also said that they live in a relatively safe area. But a few residents added that the little girl shouldn't have been wandering around unsupervised.

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