Police

Sexual Harassment and Sex-Based Discrimination Widespread at King County Sheriff's Office, Say Female Cops

Officers also say they were retaliated against for speaking up about the situation.

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King County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination are "pervasive" in the King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) claim a female sergeant and two former deputies in a lawsuit against the Washington county. The suit—which comes just three years after the county settled for $1 million with female detectives from its sexual assault division over claims of harassment and discrimination—suggests that not only were the women subjected to a hostile work environment but also retaliated against for speaking up about it. One was even subjected to an internal-affairs investigation instigated by Sheriff John Urquhart, the suit claims, even though it's highly unusual for a sitting sheriff to open an investigation.

The case, which is slated to go to trial in January 2017, has already been stirring up new scandals, too, as various parties offer depositions and declarations. One involves Chris Barringer, Sheriff Urquhart's former campaign manager and current chief of staff, who showed a "significant response" to polygraph-test questions about whether he had ever solicited or accepted a bribe. The test, administered in 2012, should have disqualified Barringer from being hired by the sheriff's office. It didn't. Urquhart himself signed a document stating that Barringer had passed his polygraph test.

And then there's D.J. Nesel, former head of internal investigations. Nesel sought whistleblower status in September after he was allegedly threatened by one of the county's lawyers over his plan to testify in the sexual-harassment suit.

Nesel also stated under oath that at meetings, Sheriff Urquhart made disturbing comments about women which revealed "some deeply rooted issues going on there" and affected "his command and … our department in a negative basis." Nesel would not reveal the exact content of Urquhart's allegedly off-color statements because the county asserted that it was privileged, since county lawyers had been present in the room with Nesel and Urquhart.

For more details on the sexual-harassment lawsuit facing King County, and the one they settled three years ago, check out this story I wrote for The Daily Beast. It's full of disturbing details, but I'll just highlight one more: managers in the county's sexual-assault investigation unit allegedly joked regularly about "fantasizing and masturbating to the details of a sexual assault." They were also accused of much more, with at least 10 current and former KCSO employees attesting to their bad behavior as part of the 2013 lawsuit. After the county settled the suit for $1 million, Urquhart sentenced the two managers to one day's suspension without pay.

Regular Reason.com readers might recognize the King County Sheriff's Office as the ones behind the January 2016 bust that took down sex-work advertising forum The Review Board and a slew of Korean escort-agencies under the guise of stopping human trafficking. I dug beneath the spin put on the story by King County law enforcement in a series of September articles:

In response, Sheriff Urquhart defended his department's work in shutting down the agencies and website, telling Seattle's KIRO Radio that if it meant sex workers sent back to the streets to find clients and work, so be it, because at least street-based prostitution didn't offer a "false sense of security."

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  1. allegedly joked regularly

    there’s your problem right there.

  2. Why do you think they call it ‘King’ County??? amirite?

    1. Isn’t John Urquhart the prime minister?

      p.s. If you watch the Kevin Spacey version but not the original BBC version you are missing out, ohh and call me daddy.

  3. Trump and Slick Willy sure gets around.

  4. I shot the sheriff, but I did not grab her pussy. No no no!

  5. I was getting King County mixed up with Kern County.

    1. let’s call the whole thing off

  6. “And then there’s D.J. Nesel..”

    I also find that women are more receptive after some dancing.

  7. The women there should go get jobs as execs at Yahoo, where that Meyer lady is firing male empires on masse and replacing them with anything with a vagina.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-po…..imination/

    1. *employees, not empires. Dammit Tim Cook, get your act together!

      1. I didn’t even blink at “empires”. It fits.

    2. Anything With A Vagina – great band name? Discuss . . .

      1. Also the answer to the question, “What does Crusty swipe right for on Tinder?”

        1. I heard anything with an anus will do for him actually. I mean, that’s what I heard, ya know, through the grapevine, not from personal experience certainly.

    3. Yahoo should be free to hire and fire whomever they please for their own reasons–no matter how stupid.

      1. And every leftist rag should be throwing a conniption fit over their discriminatory policies daily just like they would be if the genders were reversed if they actually had any principles.

        Also, I would make the slight objection that this isn’t entirely just a matter of private businesses doing as they please, since these sort of hiring practices are somewhat encouraged by the government and to some extent by the courts, which are more likely to penalize the appearance of discrimination against women than against men, making the latter course safer.

  8. “Nesel also stated under oath that at meetings, Sheriff Urquhart made disturbing comments about women which revealed “some deeply rooted issues going on there” and affected “his command and … our department in a negative basis.”

    Do these female officers have any evidence that they were mistreated apart from something someone said?

    An investigation was opened up, which is unusual? That’s the evidence?

    If I’m on the jury, you better come hunting for a preponderance of the evidence with more ammunition than that.

    Why do progressives have so much trouble telling the difference between what people say and what they do?

    Like I keep saying, to the progressives mind, it seems to be all about thought-crime. Maybe there’s convincing evidence that this guy actually did something to discriminate against these women, but I bet we’ll never hear about it. We’ll just hear about how he made off-color remarks–that aren’t indicative of having done anything.

    Hostile work environment?

    Does that require trigger warnings or something to remedy?

    Do we still believe in the First Amendment? Did she ever?

    1. I agree, the best course of action is to wildly speculate about the woman’s motives.

      1. I don’t follow.

    2. Note that Nesel’s “under oath” statement is pure opinion, so the fact that it was under oath means nothing.

      The real question is, what did he say?

      So, what DID he say?

      Nesel would not reveal the exact content of Urquhart’s allegedly off-color statements because the county asserted that it was privileged, since county lawyers had been present in the room with Nesel and Urquhart.

      Highly questionable assertion of the privilege. I’d need to know a lot more facts, but I can tell you that the mere presence of a lawyer in the room does not privilege everything said in that room.

      1. My point was that saying something off-color doesn’t mean he actually did anything to discriminate against anybody.

        If this is all about something someone said, then as far as I’m concerned, there are no damages. There’s no case.

        Just because someone said they killed somebody doesn’t mean they should be held liable for killing someone. How can you find someone liable for a homicide if no one died?

        If you tell a Pollock joke, that doesn’t mean you discriminated against one of your employees for being Polish.

        If all you have as evidence is Pollock joke, with no real evidence of damages, then you’re trying to sue someone for thought-crime. If I were the judge, and they sued the Sheriff personally for telling a Pollock joke, without any other evidence of damages, and the jury find him not guilty, I might be tempted to award the Sheriff attorneys fees courtesy of the plaintiffs.

        1. My point had nothing to do with yours, Ken.

          1. Well it was . . . posted under mine.

            Pardon me for being presumptuous!

        2. If all you have as evidence is Pollock joke,

          Under a blacklight this place looks like a Jackson Pollock painting?

      2. Something from ENB’s linked Daily Beast piece which is troubling, although not surprising:

        For instance, Chris Barringer, the sheriff’s former campaign manager and current chief of staff, supposedly passed a polygraph test in 2012 as a condition of employment. But according to Detective Tiffany Atwood, who reviewed the test results, Barringer should never have been hired. He showed “a significant response” to questions about whether he had ever solicited or accepted a bribe, noted Atwood, which means he “did not pass his polygraph” even though a supervisor had told her he had. Barringer had also disclosed marijuana use that he hadn’t admitted to on a background questionnaire, which is an automatic disqualifier.

        Atwood brought up her concerns about the old polygraph in 2015, when she heard that Barringer had been accepted into the state police academy. This sparked an internal complaint, during which then-Internal Investigations Unit commander Jesse Anderson tried to review the polygraph results personally but was told by Urquhart they were confidential. “The Sheriff said? his word is all that IIU needs to address that issue,” he reported.

        1. I thought this was supposed to have something to do with sex discrimination.

  9. Buffoonish cops acting like provocative and libidinous college boys? Get out!

    1. They found the locker room where they talk like Trump.

      1. Talk Trumpy to me, baby! Oh, yeah . . .

    2. I guessing we’re supposed to hate on the cops because they’re cops in the piece.

      Maybe she doesn’t feel like going after Trump directly, so she wrote this instead.

      1. Actually, I didn’t need this piece to hate on cops.

        1. Well don’t let that affect your judgements.

          You have excellent taste in music, and it’s probably all connected.

  10. I think ENB is just publishing a hit piece on KCSO because they have beef.

  11. RE: Sexual Harassment and Sex-Based Discrimination Widespread at King County Sheriff’s Office, Say Female Cops
    Officers also say they were retaliated against for speaking up about the situation.

    This is preposterous.
    Cops would no more engage in sexual harassment and sex based discrimination than beat an innocent person to death or shoot an unarmed citizen.
    One has to wonder where all these crazy allegations come from.

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