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Woman apologizes for flyer

A Freeland woman who passed out flyers two weeks ago identifying a former South Whidbey resident as a sexual offender is apologizing now to a Freeland business owner.

However, she said, she has no apologies to make to the man she and a Montana county prosecutor's office say sexually assaulted the woman's 13-year-old son.

On Jan. 20, Suzanne Huntoon passed out single-page leaflets to people shopping at Freeland Plaza. The leaflets were photocopies of a brief letter from Sanders County, Mont., prosecutor Robert Zimmerman, stating that Timothy Lynn Wanamaker was charged by his office and is being prosecuted for the offense of sexual assault. Also included on the photocopy is a notation written by Huntoon that she is sharing the information "for the protection of your children," and a business card for a business Wanamaker once owned in Freeland.

It was that business card, Huntoon said, that was the problem. The business, Tim's Auto Service, was located adjacent to McQueen's Whidbey Marine and Auto Supply until late last year. The address on the business card was the same as McQueen's.

When Marty Winn, the owner of McQueen's, complained to Huntoon about the flyers, she said she realized she had made a mistake.

"I apologize to Mr. Winn for any adverse affect the flyers had on McQueen's 76," she said.

Winn said last week that he had about a half-dozen customers ask about the flyer Huntoon gave out. He said he preferred that the issue around alleged crime stay out of the public eye unless Wanamaker is convicted.

But Huntoon said she wants locals to know what she and the Montana prosecutor allege Wanamaker did. She said the alleged assault occurred in Montana, where she, Wanamaker and Huntoon's son were vacationing late last summer. At the time, Huntoon and Wanamaker were dating.

Although Wanamaker is currently awaiting trial in Montana, Huntoon said she wanted to warn South Whidbey residents about what she said he did. She said Wanamaker, who is free on $7,500 bail, could come back to South Whidbey. He is currently living in Bothell with his father, as ordered by Island County Superior Court.

Huntoon said a number of people who took her flyers thanked her.

"I had three different fathers and I don't know how many mothers say 'thank you,'" she said.

Her method of alerting the public was not out of the ordinary. Unofficial flyers warning that a specific person is a drug dealer or has committed another crime show up from time to time on South Whidbey billboards or in bus shelters. Wanamaker's case is a little different, since it is the first one to catch the attention of the Island County Sheriff's Office.

Russ Lindner, the agency's chief of investigations, said Huntoon did receive a visit from an Island County Deputy in reference to her flyer. The visit was only informational in nature, since what she did was not against the law, Lindner said. This is the first time, he said, such an issue has arisen with local law enforcement.

"It's unusual because this is the first time something like this has come to our attention," he said.

Lindner said Huntoon could still be open to civil prosecution if her accusation proves to be untrue.

Wanamaker is scheduled to attend a trial readiness hearing in Sanders County this week. Sanders County Prosecutor Zimmerman refused to comment on the case.

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