School board member resigns after Capitol riot arrest

SEATTLE (AP) — A school board member from a small city in Washington state has resigned after he and his stepson were charged in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Richard Slaughter, 40, of Orting, Washington, northwest of Mount Rainier, and his 20-year-old stepson, Caden Paul Gottfried, turned themselves in last week to face charges of assaulting and interfering with police during the insurrection.

Slaughter was elected to the Orting School Board last fall. In campaign materials, he described himself as a mortgage loan officer and said he and his wife run a teen center. He opposed requiring children to mask in school as a means to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

In a note to families and school staff Wednesday, School Board President Carrie Thibodeaux announced Slaughter had resigned, and that his resignation would be discussed at Thursday night’s board meeting.

“In my conversations with Rick, he expressed this decision was grounded in his love for his family,” Thibodeaux wrote.

She added: “While we appreciate Rick’s service to the District, we are also saddened by the hurt and frustration recent events have caused.”

Slaughter’s attorney, Joseph R. Conte, said in an email Thursday that his client intends to plead not guilty.

According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent based in Tacoma, Slaughter and Gottfried first came to the agency’s attention on Jan. 7, when they disrupted a flight from Washington, D.C., to Seattle by refusing to wear masks and protesting the results of the presidential election.

In an interview with agents, Slaughter acknowledged they were at the riot but denied seeing any crimes committed, saying, “conservatives don’t protest, they have jobs,” the affidavit said.

In April, a source identified Slaughter in footage of the riot and provided links from his wife’s Facebook page showing photos of him there. In videos he was seen to keep a police riot shield away from officers, urged police to stand down and attacked officers with a long stick an entrance to the Capitol building, the affidavit said.

The Justice Department on Thursday also announced charges against two other Washington residents for their roles in the insurrection. Prosecutors say Tucker Weston, 34, and Jesse Watson, 33, are roommates in Lynnwood who traveled together to D.C. and who illegally entered the Capitol that day. Weston faces felony charges, including that he shoved police officers, while Watson is accused of misdemeanors.

They made initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Wednesday and were released pending futher hearings in D.C. It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys who might comment on their behalf.

More than 880 people have been charged with crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, an attack designed to block the transition of power from President Donald Trump following Joe Biden’s election. About 400 have pleaded guilty. More than 270 have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Sentences for the rioters have ranged from probation for low-level misdemeanor offenses to 10 years in prison for a man who used a metal flagpole to assault an officer.

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