The Snohomish County prosecutor declined to file charges against King County Sheriff John Urquhart for a sexual assault allegation made by former deputy Brian Barnes.
Barnes alleged that Urquhart groped his crotch in a Renton parking lot in 2014, an allegation that Urquhart has vehemently denied. Urquhart has also repeatedly questioned Barnes' credibility. Since the Seattle Times broke news of the allegation in a story published last month, Urquhart has filed a defamation lawsuit against Barnes.
Snohomish County prosecutor Mark Roe outlined his decision in a two-page letter sent to Renton Police Department investigator Dan Figaro, who submitted the case to Roe, and released to reporters today. The allegation didn't meet the standard of the felony charge of indecent liberties, Roe said, because that charge requires "forcible compulsion," and Barnes says that he was able to push Urquhart away.. And as for the second potential charge, fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor, the statute of limitations has passed, Roe said.
Roe shared his analysis that even if he accepted everything Barnes said as true, the allegations wouldn't bring a felony charge, and the law already ruled out the possibility of a gross misdemeanor charge. He said he agreed that the investigator had probable cause to believe a crime had occurred, but also emphasized that his decision had nothing to do with whether he believed the victim or Urquhart.
Knowing that his decision would gain media attention, Roe also dedicated a portion of his letter to his thinking on the nature of sexual assault crimes (bolds mine).
"I continue to be chagrined that what happens to SA victims doesn't seem to merit media attention unless the suspect or defendant was famous, or an official," he wrote. "I think that tells the millions of victims out there that their pain and hurt isn't what matters, it's the occupation of their abuser that prioritizes what is newsworthy."
Roe continued: "I think that's very unfortunate, and is dismissive and demeaning to victims of all the usually un-famous assailants, many of whom are often family members or acquaintances. I think that by ignoring the fact that the vast, overwhelming multitude of sexual assaults are NOT committed by famous people or elected officials, an inaccurate illusion of safety is created."
Read the full letter here.