PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Thumbing through photos is a troubling but necessary part of closure for Pennie Saum.
“You’re going to look at these pictures—those are happy kids, right? Because that’s who we had to be,” she said while passing photos of her red Franklin Pierce High School letter jacket and her brother, Cory, in his red and white No. 80 jersey.
The smiles of those young children captured on film from the 1970s and 1980s hides the darkness and abusive torment they suffered at the hands of their father, Donald Delosh, an Army veteran.
“It was a day-to-day fight to get to the next day and feel like you’ve made a success,” Saum said.
Yet her current fight is for recognition of legal and financial justice. The KOMO Investigators have learned that despite civil judgments against him, Delosh and any other military veteran cannot have their retirement pay garnished to settle the debt.
There is no doubt about the abuse and crimes that were committed. Court documents show that Delosh emotionally and sexually abused his children. Saum’s memories start at age 4 but those records reveal it actually began when she was an infant.
“He was very calculated, very manipulative, very violent,” she said.
Saum remembers many late-night violations in her bed and the holes that were drilled through the bathroom door so Delosh could watch the kids bathe.
“Literally fondling me under this blanket while ‘The Brady Bunch’ is on,” she recalled.
Saum still keeps the pictures of her and Cory sitting inside the family van—a van where the table folded down into a bed.
“Any time he could take advantage of any of those moments, he did,” she said.
The excuses and lies kept coming for years. Saum said it crafted a reality she didn’t understand until years later despite the pain in her heart after every assault.
“’You don’t want to be like every other family where families are broken up,’” she recalls being told by Delosh. “Like, this is how it is, this is how families are together. Most families are like this, they just don’t talk about it.”
Fleeting legal help
“This is vile. This is horrific,” said Tacoma attorney Scott Candoo. He represented Saum and Cory Delosh in a civil suit against their father.
The case still haunts him 20 years later despite the criminal justice for Delosh. Once he pleaded guilty, Delosh was sentenced to prison for 17 years.
Candoo says both children needed extensive therapy and emotional repair.
“It changes who are. It changes…