King County Sheriff John Urquhart won’t face criminal charges based on a woman’s recent claims that he raped her almost 15 years ago.
King County Sheriff John Urquhart won’t face criminal charges based on a woman’s recent claims that he raped her almost 15 years ago, prosecutors said.
Prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office issued a statement this week that said investigators have determined the alleged sex assault “is beyond the criminal Statute of Limitations, which would have expired 10 years from the date of the occurrence.”
“Even if within the Statute of Limitations, the evidence obtained during this investigation is insufficient to support criminal charges,” the statement added.
The sheriff issued his own statement: “As I’ve said all along, no crime ever occurred. The Prosecutor’s Office confirms exactly that.”
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Meantime, the woman who made the accusations said Tuesday she stood behind her claims and isn’t shocked by the investigation’s outcome.
“It doesn’t surprise me, because this is how rape victims are treated,” said the woman, who has asked not be identified. “They’re not believed and they’re not taken seriously. It’s just a pattern in the criminal-justice system. It’s sad, but I told the truth.”
The Times typically does not name victims of alleged or proven sexual assault.
The woman, a former deputy whom then-Sgt. Urquhart supervised in the early 2000s, claims he assaulted her after she and several other Sheriff’s Office employees went drinking at a Seattle bar in November 2002. Urquhart later came back with the woman to her apartment and took advantage of her drunkenness, she claims.
During an appearance on a local radio talk show this past week, Urquhart acknowledged going out for drinks at the time with a group that included the woman.
“She asked me to go with her back to her apartment, so two of us — another deputy and I — took her back to her apartment,” he told The Ron and Don Show on 97.3 KIRO on April 5. “There was another deputy that for some reason was there, she wanted us to go there so that this other guy would leave. He left, I left and that was the end of it.”
A Seattle police spokesman has acknowledged a detective interviewed at least two witnesses. Urquhart said on the radio show he wasn’t interviewed. Neither the prosecutor’s office nor Seattle police had released records from the investigation as of Tuesday.
Records show the woman kept a friendly relationship with Urquhart for years before accusing him this past year. Among other things, Urquhart enlisted the woman’s help to dispute several female deputies’ claims he was sexist while he was running for sheriff in 2012. Urquhart asked her to write a letter disputing the claims to the alternative weekly newspaper, The Stranger, then edited the letter to his liking before submitting it to the newspaper, emails show.
The woman, who has acknowledged problems with mental-health issues, drinking and prescription-drug abuse, said she decided to come forward this past year with her rape claims after going through counseling and trying to turn her life around. She added she was tired of lying and felt Urquhart had been manipulating her.
The woman initially took her claims to the Seattle FBI in June. An agent reviewed her claims but did not pursue a criminal case and later shared the allegations with an internal-affairs investigator for the Sheriff’s Office. Two members of the internal affairs squad later testified in a deposition that when they told Urquhart about the allegations, he directed them not to document or investigate them counter to protocol.
In his statement Tuesday, Urquhart noted the investigators also had told him that “the FBI reported that the `motivation and credibility (of the woman) should be called into question.’”
The woman eventually reported her claims to Seattle police in November, along with several other seemingly bizarre incidents she blamed Urquhart for orchestrating. The claims include hacking into her computer, surveilling and following her and entering her apartment and turning on the gas stove to cause an explosion.
Seattle police officers who took her report initially wrote it as a “disturbance” and dismissed the woman as delusional, and her report was deemed “inactive.” The department’s sexual assault unit opened an investigation about two months later, after a reporter asked about the case’s status. A deputy prosecutor and a police detective interviewed the woman for several hours in January.
While denying the woman’s claims, Urquhart has cited her mental health and has said the FBI “cleared” him in the matter. An FBI spokeswoman clarified last week her agency only reviewed the woman’s claims for potential federal crimes; the FBI has not publicly stated that it “cleared” Urquhart.
In January, after the woman’s allegations made news, the sheriff’s office finally entered the woman’s allegations into the department’s complaint database. The entry was based on the initial Seattle police report that dismissed her as delusional. The sheriff’s department has not conducted its own internal investigation to date.
Another deputy also had complained in 2014 to sheriff’s officials that Urquhart had a consensual affair with the woman while he supervised her, in violation of department policy. On the radio show this past week, Urquhart denied ever having a romantic relationship with her.
“I’m just flummoxed by these allegations,” he said.
Information in this article, originally published April 11, 2017, was corrected April 12, 2017. A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the frequency of a talk radio station that King County Sheriff John Urquhart spoke to about a rape accusation. The Ron and Don Show airs on KIRO 97.3.