An Equal Employment Office investigation earlier this month found that a temporary employee with the Seattle Police Department harassed and discriminated against one of Police Chief Adrian Diaz’s top advisors when the employee helped spread an unsubstantiated rumor that Diaz and the advisor had an affair. The office sent a letter of its findings to the employee on Sept 6, a couple days before KUOW reported that the man no longer worked for SPD.
Right-wing Facebook page Safe Seattle posted the rumor in July, but this month KUOW chronicled the claim’s trajectory from “water cooler chatter” to an actual complaint to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). The complainant claimed the chief violated city policy by having a romantic relationship with a subordinate. However, KUOW couldn’t find hard evidence of an affair, and neither did an Equal Employment Office (EEO) investigation. To be fair, the EEO didn’t really try, though.
The EEO investigator determined that Durand Dace, who started working as a temporary strategic advisor with SPD in March of 2023, spread rumors about the woman and Diaz despite Dace having no evidence of any sexual relationship. The investigation began after the woman made a sexual harassment complaint against Dace in July.
Dace acknowledged having no first-hand knowledge of an inappropriate relationship between the woman and the chief, and so the EEO did not interview any other witnesses aside from Dace and the woman.
The woman told the investigator she had no “non-work relationship with Chief Diaz” before joining SPD, no “non-work relationship” with him after joining SPD, no “contact with Chief Diaz that anyone would describe as other than that related to work activity,” and no kind of “inappropriate relationship with Chief Diaz.” Diaz's attorney, Ted Buck, acknowledged the chief had gone to her apartment to help her install dimmer switches, and that he'd been to her place with other people to work on speeches.
According to the EEO’s report, Dace said he and a broadcast journalist friend of his were chatting about him and the woman considering job offers at the department. The journalist apparently thought that the job the woman was considering was already filled, and so she asked Dace if he thought anything was “going on” between the chief and the woman.
“So that was, kind of, the first time that I had even, I [sic] didn’t introduce that idea into my head, but it was the first time that something had been brought up where I thought, 'okay,'” Dace told the investigator.
Dace said he talked to the person who the woman would replace, and that person said she didn’t think the woman and the Chief were having an affair because “Chief wouldn’t.”
After chatting about the rumor with a different employee, that employee told Dace to tell the EEO investigator what he knew, basically so he could cover his ass if the corruption scandal exploded and investigators learned that he knew about the affair but failed to report it. He told the investigator that he didn’t follow up on that advice because “it was just exactly that, it’s a rumor.”
Dace said he spread the rumor because he’d just joined the department, and people kept asking him questions because he’d worked with the woman before, and all that made him feel “special.”
“I got caught up in some moments where it was people asking me questions, and I’m new, and I wanted to be liked, and I don’t have the best confidence. I don’t make the best decisions sometimes,” he said.
Dace eventually owned up to his part in spreading the rumor by telling his supervisor, Lt. John O’Neill, and the woman. Dace described his understanding of the relationship between Diaz and the woman as “always professional,” and he said she was qualified for the position she held in the department.
The woman told the investigator that Dace called her to apologize, and she said she took notes during the two-hour phone call. According to her, Dace said, “I have been not only spreading this rumor about you, and been a part of that, but also adding to it.”
The woman told investigators she started hearing the rumor in May from her friends in the media, including from KIRO Newsradio reporter Matt Markovich. Markovich told her he’d heard a rumor about cops surveilling her. He also "cornered [Deputy Mayor] Tim Burgess at the Starbucks" and told him what he’d heard regarding an inappropriate relationship.
The woman told investigators the rumors felt like sexual harassment.
After an SPD Deputy Chief reviewed the EEO report, he recommended Dace separate from the department.
But we still have questions:
- Where did the rumor start?
- Isn’t it funny that Matt Markovich cornered Tim Burgess in a Starbucks?
- The KUOW story indicated the chief thought his command staff started the rumor, who did he suspect?
- Uh, were cops following this woman to try to catch her and the chief together outside of class?
- Police defense attorney Ted Buck told KUOW that Chief Diaz installed some dimmer switches for the woman. If he was joking, could he have picked a more suggestive light fixture???
If you've got a lead on any of this info, then contact Ashley. The investigation continues…