A veteran Seattle police officer who retired after he was accused of molesting his ex-girlfriend’s daughter was found not guilty of four criminal charges by a Snohomish County jury on Wednesday.
A Snohomish County Superior Court jury found a former Seattle police officer not guilty of four counts of first-degree child molestation on Wednesday following a weeklong trial.
“I was very relieved. These cases are very stressful, especially if you have a good belief your client is innocent,” said defense attorney Mark Mestel, who represented Officer Eric A. Smith in fighting the sexual-abuse allegations that ended Smith’s law-enforcement career.
A spokesman for the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.
Hired by the Seattle Police Department in 1983, Smith, now 58, was a motorcycle officer when he was placed on paid administrative leave after the allegations surfaced in 2014. After he was criminally charged, Smith was placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the case and then retired from the department in July 2014.
The daughter of Smith’s ex-girlfriend first accused Smith of molesting her when she was 7, but she recanted when confronted by her mother and Smith and was punished for lying, according to court records and news accounts of the case.
The girl and her mother, who was a waitress in her 20s when she met Smith, moved into Smith’s Bothell home when the girl was a toddler, court records say.
After Smith and the girl’s mother broke up in 2009, the girl asked to be allowed to continue visiting Smith. In 2014, the then-12-year-old girl told a teacher and school principal that Smith had been molesting her since she was 7, the records say.
Defense Attorney Mestel said there were “a large number of inconsistencies” in the girl’s testimony.
For instance, she testified that she witnessed Smith sexually assault a friend she had brought with her to Smith’s house, Mestel said. But when the friend took the stand, she acknowledged going to Smith’s house and being in his bedroom, but said he never touched her or made her feel uncomfortable, he said.
Mestel also said the girl made two “completely new allegations,” one the week before Smith’s trial and the second while on the stand.
She estimated she visited Smith 150 to 250 times and claimed “on just about every occasion he is begging her to have some kind of sexual contact” but she alleged only a handful of sexual incidents, Mestel said.
“Why would you keep going back?” he asked, noting it was the girl — and not her mother or Smith — who sought continued visitation with Smith.
“I’m so happy it turned out well for Eric,” Mestel said of the jury’s not-guilty verdicts. “It renewed my faith in the system.”