A judge has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday to determine whether to grant the woman’s request to bar Sheriff John Urquhart from releasing her records.
The woman who last year accused Sheriff John Urquhart of raping her years earlier has obtained a temporary protection order against Urquhart, claiming he’s disseminating her medical information to discredit her during his re-election campaign.
King County Superior Court Commissioner Pro Tem Terence Wong on Monday signed the temporary sexual-assault protection order, which prohibits Urquhart from knowingly coming within 500 feet of the woman. The sheriff was served with the order later Monday.
Wong set an initial hearing date for next Tuesday — Election Day — to determine whether the order should be made permanent, and whether to grant the woman’s requests to restrain Urquhart from releasing records about her and to surrender his firearms.
Urquhart has adamantly denied that he assaulted or had consensual sex with the woman, and has pointed to her documented mental-health issues to discredit her claims. In April, the King County Prosecutor’s Office announced Urquhart wouldn’t face charges in connection with the alleged rape.
“There is not one single new allegation in her affidavit to obtain the order,” the sheriff’s spokeswoman, Sgt. Cindi West, said Tuesday. “Her allegations were investigated by the Seattle Police Department and found to have no merit. Sheriff Urquhart will not be attending the hearing.”
In a phone interview Tuesday, the woman said she sought the protection order after recently seeing Equal Rights Washington’s political endorsement of Urquhart’s challenger, Mitzi Johanknecht, in this year’s race for sheriff.
“That was the final straw,” the woman said.
In its endorsement of Johanknecht, Equal Rights Washington, an LGBTQ advocacy group, stated that after raising concerns about the woman’s sexual-assault allegations against Urquhart, “his campaign offered to send the victim’s medical file to prove that she was ‘crazy’ and ‘not credible.’ ”
The group declined that offer, writing in its endorsement that “sending civilians a complainant’s medical file is an incredible violation on so many levels …”
Monisha Harrell, the group’s board chairperson, said Tuesday that Urquhart’s chief of staff, Chris Barringer, made the offer during a personal phone call to her in May.
“I was shocked enough by that that I said no,” Harrell said. “It wasn’t until much later when I thought, ‘Well, how the hell did he get her medical file?’ It was such an aggessive phone call that I was trying to get off the phone.”
Barringer on Tuesday disputed Harrell’s version of the phone call, saying Equal Rights Washington reached out to Urquhart’s campaign by email.
“Her claim about being offered a medical file is false as well. There is no medical file,” he said in an email.
Before the rape allegation became public last year, Urquhart hand-delivered to The Seattle Times a binder with information about his accuser that included a summary about the accuser’s mental-health issues, various court records and his correspondence with her over years after the rape purportedly occurred.
The Seattle Times typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault without their permission. The woman has asked not be named.
The woman — a former sheriff’s deputy whom Urquhart supervised at the time — contends Urquhart raped her after a night of drinking with co-workers in November 2002. She has said she decided to come forward last year with her rape claims after going through counseling and trying to turn her life around.
The woman initially took her claims to the Seattle FBI in June 2016. An agent reviewed the claims for potential federal crimes, found none, then 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.
The woman eventually reported her claims to Seattle police last November.
Seattle officers who took the report initially wrote it up 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.
A prosecutor and a police detective later “administratively cleared” Urquhart of the claims, finding the statute of limitations on any crime had expired, and the alleged sex appeared consensual.
The police department’s Office of Police Accountability later reprimanded the officers for their handling of the initial report.
The King County Ombudsman also separately found Urquhart violated department rules and procedures when he directed his internal-affairs squad not to document or investigate the allegations.
Most Read Local Stories
- Seattle police Chief Carmen Best says she will retire amid protests, City Council cuts
- Coronavirus daily news updates, August 11: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Seattle police Chief Carmen Best says City Council's budget cuts, lack of respect for SPD drove her retirement decision VIEW
- Warning for fall election: The COVID-19 denial crowd did terrific in last week's voting
- 374 Seattle Police Department employees made at least $200,000 last year; here's how
Urquhart’s denial of the woman’s allegations has evolved over time. In a deposition for an unrelated lawsuit last year, he denied assaulting or having a consensual affair with the woman, blaming her mental illness for what he described as her false allegations.
In April, Urquhart told a Seattle radio talk-show that he escorted the woman home on the night in question, dropped her off and left. In June, he told The Times “There was no ‘romantic contact’ ” with the woman.
But last month, during an audio-recorded interview with The Times, Urquhart acknowledged for the first time that physical contact with the woman occurred, but he said she initiated it.
“She was drunk and she was all over me,” he said.
The sheriff declined to elaborate when pressed for further details.