The executive director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KSARC) issued a statement on behalf of the organization this afternoon, saying its advocates "were deeply disturbed" by King County Sheriff John Urquhart's response to his assault allegations.
The sheriff has been accused of offering research on a rape accuser's mental health to political consultant Monisha Harrell in order to discredit that accuser. The sheriff and his staff have denied any such medical information existed or was offered to Harrell.
A different accuser, former deputy Brian Barnes, has alleged that Urquhart groped him in a Renton restaurant parking lot in 2014—an allegation that Urquhart vehemently denies. Barnes has complained to the King County Sheriff's Office internal investigations unit and the King County Ombudsman's Office that the sheriff improperly shared his personnel information in an attempt to discredit him, too. The sheriff denies that any of the research he shared with reporters was inappropriate.
"At a time when so many survivors of sexual assault are choosing to come forward, confidence in our public institutions and public leaders is critically important," KSARC executive director Mary Ellen Stone said in the statement. "We are deeply disturbed that Sheriff Urquhart’s response to assault allegations was to publicly demean and discredit the victims."
The statement continued:
This is never acceptable. And when allegations involve community leaders, a higher standard of public behavior is required.
The Sheriff’s office must engender public confidence and trust especially for victims of crime.
If the Sheriff is re-elected next week, his first task must be to repair this trust.
King County prosecutors declined to file the first accuser's rape allegation for lack of evidence and expiry under the statute of limitations earlier this year, and Urquhart denies the allegation. Nevertheless, an August report from the King County Ombudsman's Office concluded that Urquhart had a conflict of interest when he decided that the allegation did not merit documentation or investigation at the Sheriff's Office. This week, the Seattle Times reported that the first accuser received a temporary sexual assault protection order on Urquhart from the King County Superior Court after she alleged that he had offered to share her medical information.