A judge on Tuesday agreed to delay a hearing on a woman's request for a permanent sexual assault protection order against King County Sheriff John Urquhart.
The woman, a former King County deputy who has accused Urquhart of raping her in 2002, requested the order to stop the sheriff from releasing her medical records. The woman says the sheriff has provided personal records related to her job performance and medical care to individuals and groups in an attempt to discredit the rape allegation.
A Pierce County judge, Elizabeth Martin, heard the case in Seattle, a customary move aimed at avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest. Judge Martin granted Urquhart's attorney's request to continue the hearing until December 5.
Urquhart, who is up for reelection, did not appear at the hearing.
Judge Martin agreed to keep the temporary order in place, which prohibits the sheriff from getting within 500 feet of the petitioner.
As a result of the continuance, the judge agreed to provide the woman a court-appointed attorney.
Urquhart has repeatedly denied the rape accusation and the woman's claim that he is releasing her private information. Investigations by local and federal authorities largely discredited the woman's rape claim.
"I have never released any private medical records of my accuser. Nor was there any offer to release medical records by anyone in my office," Urquhart said in a written statement.
Judge Martin told both parties she expects the December hearing to last no longer than two hours, allowing both sides to present witnesses.
Monisha Harrell, chair of Equal Rights Washington, sat in the courtroom prepared to testify in support of the woman's request. Harrell said she would testify that that Urquhart's chief of staff, Chris Barringer, offered in May to provide the woman's medical records to refute the sexual assault claim. Barringer has denied making the offer.
"I think it's absolutely inappropriate to offer somebody else's medical file in an attempt to discredit them," said Harrell.
Harrell said it's one thing for someone to defend themselves in the legal system, but she said it was wrong for a law enforcement officer to offer the information to civilians.
Renton police confirmed the department is investigating Urquhart for another claim of sexual assault involving another former deputy.
Other elected leaders and victims' advocates have spoken out against the sheriff for how he has handled the allegations.
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