Renton police have found that there are grounds to file a sexual assault charge against King County Sheriff John Urquhart, who lost his reelection bid amid allegations ranging from groping to rape from two former deputies. Urquhart also faced criticism for attempting to discredit his two accusers.
Prosecutors declined to file a case against Urquhart last year, when his first accuser, a female former deputy, accused him of rape. At that time, the King County Prosecuting Attorney cited both a lack of evidence and an expiration of the claim under the statute of limitations. But this fall, a second accuser, former King County deputy Brian Barnes, came forward in a piece published in the Seattle Times to accuse Urquhart of having groped him in the parking lot of a Renton restaurant in 2014. The Snohomish County prosecutor is currently deciding whether to file charges.
Today, The Stranger, as well as the Times, obtained the charging documents from the Renton investigators. Commander Daniel Figaro has recommended that Urquhart be charged with "indecent liberties; assault with sexual motivation." In Washington State, the crime of indecent liberties is a felony.
According to the charging documents, Barnes says he told his priest about the groping allegation a week after it occurred, and also told a former detective last year that Urquhart "had done something to him." The charging documents additionally say that Barnes told his former captain, Carl Cole, about the groping allegation in early 2017.
The charging documents also say that Renton police asked Barnes to reenact the groping in the parking lot of the Renton restaurant.
Urquhart has vehemently denied the groping allegation against him; he's further accused Barnes of not being credible, and has filed a defamation suit against him.
Read the full charging recommendation here.
Update: The Sheriff responded to news of the charging documents in a statement sent from the Sheriff's Office released to reporters. "Barnes has a history of making allegations going back at least twelve years to when he was a police officer in Webster, MA," the statement from the Sheriff's Office reads. "In fact, this is the third elected official against whom he has made a criminal allegation just before an election."
The statement also said that former detective Robin Cleary, who had vouched for Barnes, had been fired for dishonesty and that Carl Cole was part of the election team for Urquhart's challenger, Mitzi Johanknecht.
"Not only have I adamantly denied this scurrilous allegation from day one, but I've said it was politically motivated," Urquhart said in the statement. "Now there should be no question.”