Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe has declined to file sex assault charges against King County Sheriff John Urquhart. Roe cites the statute of limitations for 4th Degree Assault with Sexual Motivation as a factor.
The alleged incident happened in March of 2014.
Renton police, who began investigating in September after the case was referred by the King County Sheriff's Office, recommended criminal charges against Sheriff Urquhart, according to an investigative document released through a public disclosure request last week.
Investigators believed they had probable cause that Urquhart committed the crimes of Indecent Liberties and Assault with Sexual Motivation.
In a letter to Renton Police, Roe explained if the details of the case are true, the charge of 4th degree Assault with Sexual Motivation, a gross misdemeanor, carries a two year statue of limitations. The alleged crime happened more than three years ago.
Roe went on to explain how it impacted his decision not to file that particular charge.
"That decision absolutely does not mean that I either believed or disbelieved the alleged victim, nor does it mean I accepted or rejected Mr. Urquhart’s version of events. It means that we aren’t going to file any criminal charges. That’s all it means," he wrote.
In regards to the felony charge of Indecent Liberties, Roe wrote "I simply don’t believe, even if one accepts everything the alleged victim says as true, that the alleged actions of Mr. Urquhart constitute that very serious, violent, Class A felony sex offense."
Roe went on to say that according to the alleged victim's story, he "was completely successful in rebuffing the brief physical contact" which eliminates the element of "forcible compulsion," a required factor in an Indecent Liberties charge.
Urquhart has denied the allegations.
"As I have said all along, what was alleged never occurred. A polygraph proved as much," Urquhart said in a statement. "It is unfortunate, but not coincidental, that the accusation came out so close to the election. As Mark Twain said, 'A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.'”
In a written statement, Urquhart's accuser, former deputy Brian Barnes told KING 5, "Renton Police did an outstanding job and the commander is a man of integrity. He found probable cause which is a high standard to meet."
"The last few years have been extremely difficult, but Commander was able to put it all together and I believe the incoming sheriff would do well to meet with the commander as she tries to put a department back together."
As for Roe's decision, Barnes said, "I trust he knows the law. He spoke with me and took unlimited time with me about how he made the decision."
"John is entitled to due process and if it doesn't meet felony standards then I can't be upset," Barnes said.
Barnes, who allowed us to identify him for our story, alleges the assault happened outside the Yankee Grill in March 2014.
Barnes and Sheriff Urquhart were having dinner together to discuss a problem Barnes was having with a precinct major but their accounts of what happened that night diverge from when they left the restaurant.
According to the probable cause document, Barnes, identified as "B.B.," told investigators "his back was against Urquhart's vehicle and Urquhart, who is much taller, was standing close to him.
Urquhart put one hand on B.B.'s shoulder in what he described as a 'Fatherly' like manner. B.B. said Urquhart's other hand went to his crotch and remained there for about ten seconds. B.B. said during this time Urquhart said words similar to, 'You don't need to worry about Jerrell, I'm the Sheriff, I"ll take care of it.'"
In an interview with KING 5 in October, Urquhart, who was heated race for re-election, said the accusation was politically motivated.
"Any allegation that something happened is ridiculous. It's ridiculous," said Urquhart. "That's the only way I can describe it. And any allegation that is made is purely political."
But according to the document, investigators say Barnes told three other people about the alleged assault far before the election season. He told his priest a week after it occurred.
Barnes told a former detective Robin Cleary "12-18 months ago" but didn't go into detail. She said her "impression was that Urquhart made some sort of sexual advance toward B.B."
And he also confided in his former captain, Carl Cole, who he confided to "in early 2017."
According to the document, Cole told investigators "he knows Barnes to be truthful and have a strong sense of right and wrong."
The sheriff vigorously denied the allegations and has filed a defamation suit against Barnes. To prove his innocence, he hired a private firm to administer a polygraph, which Urquhart said he passed.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, Urquhart said that Cleary was fired from the Sheriff's Office in 2014 for dishonesty. Cole, according to the statement, was an active member of his political opponent's campaign.
News of this investigation broke just six days before election day. Urquhart lost his bid for re-election.