A former Bellevue police officer has sued the department, two high-ranking supervisors and others who he alleges failed to adequately investigate domestic-assault allegations which led to his arrest and cost him his career before prosecutors determined his accuser had a history of seeking out men for relationships and then reporting their consensual trysts as crimes.
John Kivlin alleges in his lawsuit that the department was too quick to take the word of his accuser, Idunn (pronounced Eden) Schneider, when it placed him on leave and opened an investigation into her allegations that he had physically assaulted her during an extramarital affair the couple had in the fall of 2017. He alleges the department went public with his suspension and news of the accusations, permanently damaging his reputation.
Schneider has since been charged with two counts of malicious prosecution, both felonies, and witness tampering. Schneider later failed to appear for her arraignment and warrants have been issued for her arrest.
Schneider also falsely accused Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett of raping her, according to Bothell police who investigated the claim. According to a case report into the Mylett investigation published by the city, Schneider is currently believed to be living in Norway.
The lawsuit names as defendants the department, Assistant Chief Patrick Arpin, Major Carl Kleinknecht and two “John Doe” employees. A telephone message seeking comment from the city’s attorneys was not returned on Thursday.
Kivlin alleges the department failed to notify the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission even after Schneider’s allegations were deemed untrue, and as a result the commission rescinded his certification as a law enforcement officer, making it impossible for him to work as an officer.
The lawsuit alleges Kivlin and Schneider, both of whom were married, began a consensual affair in late 2017. Beginning in December and through March 2018, according to the suit, Kivlin began to “have doubts” about Schneider and their relationship “and he considered discontinuing their relationship,” but didn’t at that point. In March, the lawsuit claims, Schneider appeared with a swollen cheek and a black eye, and told Kivlin her partner had struck her. Kivlin suggested she obtain a no-contact order, according to the complaint.
In early April, the lawsuit alleges that Kivlin’s wife received a text alerting her to the affair. Kivlin said he was asked to leave his Gig Harbor family house and moved into an apartment, deciding he had to end the relationship with Schneider.
According to the lawsuit, Schneider went to the Bellevue Police Department to report his alleged abuse on April 27, just a day after he had broken off their relationship. The following day, Kivlin was arrested and placed on paid leave and an internal investigation was begun and Schneider obtained a protection order, the pleadings say.
Meantime, Kivlin alleges Arpin, the assistant chief, and others went immediately to the media about the arrest, and that Schneider continued make complaints about him, alleging Kivlin was attempting to contact her. Over the course of the summer, several other criminal charges were filed and Kivlin was arrested three times as additional charges were added.
The lawsuit claims that Schneider was acting strangely. In May, the lawsuit alleges, she was taken into custody and involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation after she went to Gig Harbor and said she was going to shoot Kivlin and commit “suicide by cop.”
Kivlin and his wife both obtained anti-harassment orders against Schneider out of concern for their safety and Schneider was required to surrender a weapon, according to the lawsuit. Even so, Kivlin’s lawsuit alleges Schneider “continued to make false reports that plaintiff had violated the terms of the protection order … which resulted in further investigation by his employer and detention by law enforcement authorities.”
In July, Kivlin was arrested a third time on allegations that he had violated the protection order and Kivlin turned in his involuntary resignation from the department the following month, the lawsuit said.
Also in July, Schneider accused Mylett, the Bellevue police chief, of raping her.
In September, after Kivlin had resigned, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, after reviewing forensic phone records and other information, dismissed the newest charges and Kivlin was released. The office concluded “Ms. Schneider fabricated evidence and used a sophisticated ruse to deceive Kivlin, law enforcement, prosecutors and the court in order to have Kivlin taken into custody and charged with the additional crimes … that he did not commit.” The following month, all pending charges against Kivlin were dismissed.
The lawsuit claims Bellevue police failed to provide the exonerating evidence to the Criminal Justice Training Commission, which in June 2019 revoked his law enforcement certification based on allegations arising from Schneider’s allegations.
In addition to defamation, Kivlin claims invasion of privacy, injurious falsehoods, wrongful discharge and violations of his right to due process.
Editor’s Note: This is a corrected version of this story.