North Bend prosecutors have asked King County to decide whether to file a criminal charge against Mayor Ken Hearing, who was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of hitting his wife with a golf club.

Hearing pleaded not guilty Wednesday to fourth-degree assault in Issaquah Municipal Court. North Bend prosecutors later moved to dismiss the misdemeanor charge and referred the case to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to avoid a conflict of interest.

Hearing was arrested by King County sheriff’s deputies after a City Council meeting Tuesday night, for investigation of an alleged assault two days earlier.

The mayor was booked into King County Jail on Tuesday night and released Wednesday afternoon without bail.

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“He has no history of anything like this. The judge released him on his own recognizance, which was very, very appropriate,” Hearing’s lawyer, Todd Maybrown, said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West said deputies responded to Hearing’s home about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, when he told a 911 dispatcher his wife “was taunting him and then said, ‘Here she comes,’ and the phone went dead.”

Hearing and his wife both said he struck her in the leg around 2 a.m. Sunday with a golf club the wife identified as a five iron, West said. Investigating officers reported the wife, who appeared to be intoxicated, had a bruise on her right thigh.

Hearing, who was first elected mayor in 2003 and has been re-elected two times since then, owns and operates Scott’s Dairy Freeze in North Bend.

Hearing, 62, could not be reached for comment. However, the SnoValley Star posted online a statement from the mayor, thanking “the many citizens” who have contacted him and offered support.

“I believe in the judicial process and I would ask that people allow this process to unfold,” Hearing wrote.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the county prosecutor’s office, said the case is under review and a decision hasn’t been made on whether to prosecute Hearing.

Seattle Times staff reporter Katherine Long contributed to this story. Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or