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Report: Sex charge recommended for King County sheriff

November 22, 2017

SEATTLE (AP) — Probable cause exists to charge King County Sheriff John Urquhart with a sexual-assault crime in the groping of a former deputy more than three years ago, according to a suburban Seattle police investigator.

Renton Police Commander Daniel Figaro submitted his probable-cause affidavit and other materials last week to Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe for review, The Seattle Times reported .

The case was forwarded for review of a possible felony charge of sexual indecent liberties.

Figaro’s nine-page sworn statement, obtained Tuesday by the Times under a public records request, details reasons for charging Urquhart after a nearly two-month investigation into groping allegations by former deputy Brian Barnes.

Urquhart, 70, has denied Barnes’ allegation, calling it politically motivated. In a statement Tuesday, Urquhart said he took and passed a private polygraph exam during which he denied the allegation.

He added that he had fired one detective cited in the probable-cause statement for dishonesty and that another deputy who was cited worked on the successful campaign of Mitzi Johanknecht, who defeated Urquhart in the sheriff’s election earlier this month. He will remain in the office until January.

“Not only have I adamantly denied this scurrilous allegation from day one, but I’ve said it was politically motivated. Now there should be no question,” Urquhart said.

Roe, who formerly prosecuted sexual-assault cases, said in an email to the newspaper last week that he is reviewing the matter and expects to decide whether to charge Urquhart within a few weeks.

King County prosecutors referred the investigation to Roe’s office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Renton police started the criminal investigation after Barnes formally complained to the sheriff’s office in September that Urquhart grabbed his crotch in the parking lot of a Renton restaurant after a March 2014 dinner meeting.

Barnes, 49, now a college campus police officer in Massachusetts, voluntarily resigned as a deputy in 2015 after King County paid him more than $160,000 as part of an unusual settlement that failed to receive a required approval from King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Barnes did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper Tuesday.

Urquhart filed a defamation lawsuit against Barnes over the groping allegation earlier this month.

The past year of Urquhart’s tenure has been marked by several current or former deputies suing the department, and the commanders’ union has accused Urquhart and his top aides of misconduct.

Urquhart has disputed the allegations, dismissing many as the work of political opponents upset by his efforts to hold misbehaving deputies accountable.


Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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