In his first public remarks since a Bothell police investigation cleared him of a woman's sexual-assault allegations, Chief Steve Mylett expressed his gratitude for his faith, his family and his future in re-assuming command of the police department.
With cameras and reporters gathered before him Tuesday, the man once again dressed in blue with a silver shield on his chest paused the longest and swallowed hardest when he spoke about his family.
He focused on his wife’s strength, and the pride and love his children “showered” on him despite swirling suspicions after a woman accused him of sexual assault.
“I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody,” Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce his reinstatement to the job.
“I have a deeper appreciation about what it means to be falsely accused, and I also have a deeper appreciation of what it’s like to be on administrative leave. And I think it will make me a better chief and a better human.”
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In his first public remarks since a 2-½-month Bothell police investigation completed Monday cleared him of sexual-assault allegations, Mylett expressed his gratitude for his faith, his family and his future in re-assuming command of the 225-employee department.
With City Manager Brad Miyake standing nearby, the chief said he leaned on his Christianity and gained a better understanding of patience during his paid administrative leave while the criminal probe unfolded.
“This was by no stretch of the imagination a vacation,” he said. “There was a lot of things that my wife and I discussed and dealt with — the what ifs and everything else — and there was fear. There was anxiety, culminating with tremendous relief and gratitude that the members of the Bothell Police Department did such an exceptional job in rooting out the truth.”
But while stressing that he’s “not a person who dwells in the past,” Mylett acknowledged the ordeal of being blamed by someone he said he’s never even met has profoundly changed his life.
“I had no idea why she would make the accusations that she made,” the chief said. “With that in mind, I’m looking forward. I’m moving ahead. I’m not going to look in the past, I’m not going to look in the rearview mirror, except that this is behind us.”
His accuser, a 44-year-old Issaquah woman, came forward in early August with claims Mylett had raped her two years earlier during an encounter at his Bothell home arranged through an adult sex website. The allegations emerged as the King County Sheriff’s Office separately investigated the woman’s claims against two other Bellevue police officers that initially led to domestic-violence assault and witness-tampering charges against one of them.
Mylett, 53, who was hired as Bellevue’s chief in 2015 after more than two decades of police work in Texas, was placed on paid administrative leave amid separate criminal and administrative investigations.
Bothell investigators found Mylett’s accuser had gone so far as to create phony, backdated email exchanges that contained the address of a Bothell rental home where Mylett temporarily lived. But lease records and other evidence proved Mylett had moved out of that house prior to when the woman claimed the assault occurred, and DNA tests ruled Mylett out as a possible match to genetic evidence gathered from clothing the woman turned over as part of the case.
“I was shocked by some of the lengths that this individual went to,” Mylett said.
Bothell police have since forwarded probable-cause findings against the woman recommending charges of perjury, tampering with evidence and making a false statement to police. Prosecutors are now reviewing the case. A lawyer representing the woman said earlier Tuesday he wasn’t able to comment on the open investigation for ethical reasons.
Earlier this month, prosecutors dismissed the charges against one of the other Bellevue officers, and have opted not to pursue rape charges against the other officer. Both of those officers, who acknowledged sexual relationships with the woman but denied any criminal wrongdoing, have since resigned from the Bellevue Police Department.
“I think they are moving forward as well, and we wish them the best of luck,” Mylett said of the other officers.
According to the sheriff’s office, the woman has a history of seeking out men on Craigslist and then falsely reporting those consensual encounters as a crime to police. She twice previously had made false rape reports, but authorities opted not to charge her in those cases, citing her mental-health problems.
Mylett declined to say Tuesday whether he believes the woman should be charged for falsely accusing him.
“I think people should be held accountable for their actions,” he said. “I think the process of the claims that were made against me worked, and I think another process will take place and I am confident that the right decisions will be made.”
Despite the investigation’s findings, Miyake noted “any of these types of allegations need to be taken seriously,” adding “this process was absolutely necessary, especially given the current national dialogue.”
Mylett said he hoped the episode would not discourage sexual-assault survivors from coming forward.
“That would be a crime in my view, if this deters anybody from bringing any report of a sexual assault to their local police department,” he said. “Absolutely that should not happen.”