King County prosecutors are reviewing whether to bring sexual assault charges against Seattle Impact FC owner Dion Earl now that police have completed their investigation of the case.
Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County prosecutors’ office, said information from a county sheriff’s department investigation has been turned over to the office and is being evaluated to see whether charges should be brought. The investigation was launched after two women from the Kent-based professional indoor soccer squad’s dance team complained in September that Earl had sexually assaulted them.
Those women, along with four other former team employees, filed a lawsuit Nov. 6 claiming Earl, 42, had sexually assaulted the dancers and harassed others.
Donohoe said there is no immediate time frame for a decision on whether to bring charges against Earl in the case.
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A Seattle Times story Thursday noted that Earl had a nearly two-decades-long history of misconduct allegations brought against him by women, including five protection orders obtained since 1998. He also was dismissed from a high-school coaching job after a 17-year-old cheerleader told officials he’d asked her out on a date.
Kirkland police investigated Earl in late 2009 on suspicion of second-degree rape after a massage-parlor employee complained she had been sexually assaulted during an appointment. Earl told police in a written statement that he had sexual intercourse with the woman, but at her suggestion.
Police declined to forward that case to prosecutors, citing a lack of evidence that the sex was non-consensual. Instead, the file sat open and untouched for more than four years until the investigating officer, Christa Gilland, was asked by a supervisor just more than a week ago to submit a conclusion to it.
Kirkland police Lt. Mike Murray said Friday his department reviewed the case earlier this month after receiving a public-information request looking into Earl’s background. It was at that point, he said, that the supervisor noticed no conclusion attached to the report and asked Gilland to submit one.
Murray said Gilland had been transferred back to patrol as part of the department’s regular rotation of shared workload shortly after taking the case as far as she could.
Gilland wrote in her recently added conclusion that she’d asked the prosecutor’s office for help building a stronger case against Earl. She wrote that Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor — who has since retired — contacted her in February 2010 and suggested a search warrant on a computer belonging to the alleged victim’s boss, who owned the massage parlor and had been in contact with Earl afterward.
But Gilland did not pursue a warrant.
Murray said Friday that Gilland actually had spoken with another prosecutor — whose name he did not have — after the Spoor conversation and was told a search of the computer couldn’t be done because of “third-party hearsay’’ complications. He also said the computer’s owner had by then gotten rid of the machine.
Gilland makes no mention in her report of speaking with a second prosecutor. Instead, her Dec. 10 conclusion states the alleged victim was difficult to coordinate with, details in her story were shaky, and the computer’s owner was uncooperative.
Police could have turned the file over to prosecutors for review, given Earl’s admission he’d had sex with the alleged victim. But Murray said the department decided that without further evidence, it was the alleged victim’s word against Earl’s.
The Times story Thursday also raised questions about whether the newly formed Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) conducted sufficient background checks on prospective owners before awarding them franchises. Besides Earl, the story mentioned Thomas Guerriero, owner of the Oxford City FC team in Beaumont, Texas, who paid more than $50,000 to settle a 2010 lawsuit over sexual-harassment charges brought by a former female intern at his New York financial consulting firm.
Thursday, after The Times story ran, Guerriero issued a news release announcing he was selling the team, after only five months as owner, to a “Latin American group’’ with a female majority partner.
Guerriero said the sale was agreed to Monday but he couldn’t name the buyer because the league had yet to approve the sale.
“The MASL has a process for approving new ownership, which includes among other things a background check and a member voting process for new ownership,’’ the release states.
MASL commissioner Kevin Milliken did not respond to requests for comment Friday on the timing of Guerriero’s sale announcement and why it was made despite not being finalized.
Milliken had maintained in weeks leading up to the story Thursday that the MASL conducted background checks on both Earl and Guerriero before they became owners in the 23-team league. He said the league had looked into Guerriero’s lawsuit, but would not disclose what was found.
On Earl, he said no criminal record was found and that the league won’t take action against him as an owner unless he is charged with something.
The Impact, playing out of the ShoWare Center, continues on with a roster bolstered by new players after 22 others quit last month in protest of Earl’s management. The dance team also resigned. Earl remains as owner, player and head coach and was in uniform Thursday night as the Impact lost 11-9 to the Ontario Fury to fall to 3-5 this season.
Attendance was announced at 365, but social media accounts from those at the game said fewer than 100 people were at the 6,500-seat arena.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com