Man molested 3-year-old at Bellingham AA meeting

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 9, 2014 

A Bellingham man who molested a 3-year-old girl at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting pleaded guilty to second-degree child molestation Thursday, May 8, in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Gilbert Hannah, 66, was attending a meeting in January 2013 when he went into a nearby room where the 3-year-old and a 9-year-old girl were playing alone, according to court documents.

After the meeting, the older girl told her grandmother that a man had come into the room and put his hand down the younger girl's tights. The older girl said she didn't say anything when it was happening because she was scared the man would do the same thing to her, according to court documents.

Relatives called police and decided to continue attending meetings to see if they could find a man who fit the description the older girl gave to police. The younger girl, who had recently turned 3, was unable to talk about what happened.

After some time, the girls' relatives were able to figure out that Hannah likely was the one who molested the girl. Bellingham Police officers interviewed Hannah Feb. 14, and he admitted that he had been at the meeting and gone in the room where the girls were playing but initially said he didn't remember putting his hand down the girl's tights.

He later admitted that he did but said it was an accident. He was arrested for child molestation about a week later.

Hannah could serve 20 months in prison for the charge, though the Department of Corrections will have to complete a pre-sentencing investigation before he is sentenced.

Reach Zoe Fraley at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or 360-756-2803. Read the Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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