Former Thurston County man faces charges of child molestation after arrest in Texas

A former Thurston County man was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting two children under age 12.

John Benton Ragland, 34, pleaded not guilty during a preliminary hearing Friday at Thurston County Superior Court. Ragland faces seven total charges, including three counts of first-degree child molestation and one count of first-degree rape of a child, according to charging documents.

According to a probable cause statement, the alleged sexual abuse occurred between December 2009 and December 2011 while the two children were in Ragland’s care. The victims’ mother contacted the Sheriff’s Office in 2013 after her son and daughter disclosed details of the abuse. The victims were forensically interviewed by a detective in June 2013 at the Monarch Children’s Justice Center, according to documents.

A warrant was issued for Ragland’s arrest in November 2013. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Ragland was arrested this week in Brazoria, Texas, and was extradited to Thurston County, where the crimes allegedly took place. Ragland was formerly a resident of unincorporated Thurston County, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

At Friday’s hearing, Judge Anne Hirsch appointed a public defender for Ragland and set his bail at $100,000. Hirsch also issued protection orders for Ragland’s alleged victims. Ragland’s trial was set for the week of Sept. 29.