Amber Wright tries to enjoy the simple things in life now, like taking a walk outside and spending time in her garden because not so long ago, Amber’s life was far from simple.
“I didn’t have much of a childhood, to be honest. I would get punched in the face. He would make me do stuff to him, touch him in inappropriate places,” said Amber.
When she was just 13 years old, after her parent’s divorce, Amber’s father, David Wright, did the unthinkable to his own daughter.
“This is a man who would invite young teen girls into the home to play strip poker,” said Amber’s attorney, David Moody. “He would shoot them up with drugs, give them alcohol and invite them to take showers with him.”
The Sumner Police Department began investigating in July 2004. Detectives interviewed girls as young as 6 who reported that Wright sexually molested them. At the same time, the state Department of Social and Health Services got involved and took Amber out of the home.
“The problem is they placed her with the abuser’s mother. She then did everything she could to get Amber to recant and say she wasn’t being abused,” said Moody.
One month later, Sumner police arrested Wright for child molestation after eight girls gave statements to police that he had either abused them or witnessed him taking illegal drugs and molesting his daughter.
Wright bailed out of jail and immediately asked DSHS to see his kids. That would be up to Bruce Morrison, the social worker assigned to Amber’s case.
“He simply, after doing virtually no investigation whatsoever, placed Amber right back into the same home where she continued to be drugged and raped,” said Moody.
In October 2004, Morrison closed the case as “unfounded.” He met with Amber twice and interviewed her only when Wright’s mother was with her. Amber was too scared to talk about the abuse, so Morrison allowed Wright to move back in with his daughter. For the next seven months, he physically and sexually abused her nearly every day.
“They would have found out everything about the drug abuse, him doing things to me and beating me. It was all in black and white, it was all there,” said Amber.
In December 2005, Wright was charged with 14 counts of incest, molestation and rape and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. During that time, Amber decided to sue DSHS.
The case dragged on, and in 2010 during a court deposition, Morrison admitted on the stand he didn’t know what he was doing.
“So you never interviewed Amber about being sexually abused, right?” asked Moody in court.
“No, sir, I did not,” replied Morrison.
“Not even once?” asked Moody.
“Not once,” said Morrison.
“Did you interview David Wright about sexually abusing Amber?” asked Moody.
“No, sir, I did not,” said Morrison.