Report faults King County Sheriff's handling of rape claim

A new report delivers sharp criticism of King County Sheriff John Urquhart’s handling of a rape allegation made against him last year.

Several investigations concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove that a rape occurred in 2003, and a Seattle Police Department memo stated "interviews revealed that no crime had occurred."

The rape accusation came from a former sheriff’s deputy that Urquhart used to supervise.

But a new King County Ombudsman’s Office report, dated August 8, finds the Sheriff department did not properly document the rape allegation and acted with a “conflict of interest” because it did not seek an outside law enforcement agency to investigate.

The Ombudsman’s Office did not investigate the specifics of the rape allegation.  It only reviewed whether administrative procedures were followed once the sheriff learned of the accusation against him.

The report determined procedures were not followed, perhaps on orders from Urquhart himself.  It found four violations of administrative policy.

“Sheriff Urquhart’s and IIU’s (Internal Investigations Unit) conflicts of interest, paired with their decisions not to follow policies and procedures, lead to an appearance that they sought to prevent proper scrutiny of the complainant’s allegations,” said the report written by the office of Ombudsman Amy Calderwood.

The report says the King County Sheriff’s Office first learned of the allegation by an unnamed former deputy when the FBI called in June 2016.  An FBI agent said there were “problems with credibility” in the victim’s story.  The FBI apparently did not pursue the case further.

The Ombudsman’s Office says the Internal Investigations Unit should have documented the allegation in its “BlueTeam” system for tracking complaints against sheriff’s office members and initiated a proper investigation.

The report says, later in June, IIU officials reported the FBI’s contact to Urquhart.

An IIU captain reported that Sheriff Urquhart “…said he didn’t think it was necessary” to document the allegation in the BlueTeam system and that the captain “…disagreed with Sheriff Urquhart’s direction, as it was contrary to policy.”

In a nine-page response included in the report, Urquhart said it was not unusual for his office not to enter complaints that were not credible into BlueTeam. He denied giving anyone a direct order not to enter the rape allegation complaint into the system.

A rebuttal by Ombudsman-Director Calderwood says “…your letter continues to defend your past decisions.”

In an email to KING 5 Thursday, a sheriff's office spokesman said Urquhart is not available for an interview but that “…the Sheriff feels there are some very good recommendations in the report and we’re looking at ways in which we can implement them.”

 

© 2017 KING-TV


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