Sheriff Urquhart responds to sex assault claim, sues accuser

By: Alison Grande

Updated:

SEATTLE - Today, Sheriff John Urquhart is fighting back against allegations he says are lies and an attempt to sabotage his re-election campaign. 

Urquhart filed a defamation suit against former King County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Barnes on Wednesday.

"This is the most disruptive employee we have ever had," said Urquhart in an interview with KIRO 7.

Barnes claims Urquhart grabbed his crotch after a dinner meeting in Renton in 2014.  Barnes reported the alleged incident to the Department of Justice last May and contacted the King County Sheriff's Office with the claim in September. The Renton Police Department investigated and just sent the case to the prosecutor this week to determine if a crime was committed.

 

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Urquhart denied having any physical contact with Barnes.

KIRO 7 talked to Barnes on the phone on Wednesday. The former deputy is now a police officer in Massachusetts. Barnes reached a settlement agreement with King County before he left the department. He was given $100,000 dollars plus unpaid wages and medical. Barnes called the payments "hush money."

KIRO 7 asked Urquhart if it was "hush money.”

"That's patently ridiculous. Off course not, absolutely not," said Urquhart. "It was money that was used to get him to leave the Sheriff's Office, that's the bottom line."

KIRO 7 went through Barnes' personnel file and found he has a history of making complaints about his superiors.

The sheriff sent us piles of paperwork on Barnes in an effort to discredit him.

When asked why he released information on Barnes and his previous accusations, Urquhart responded," Because he's made a very serious allegation against me and is a 'he said, she said.' There are no witnesses. There's no evidence. All I can do is show the motivation and the history of my accuser, and I think that's fair game. He's certainly gone after me. I'm showing what he's done in the past, and he's done the same exact thing in the past."

This week Urquhart was accused of trying to discredit a former female deputy who accused him of rape in 2002. 

He denied ever having sexual contact with the alleged victim.  That case was investigated years ago, and he was never charged. But this week that woman filed for a temporary protection order to keep him from releasing her medical records.

"We've been accused of offering to release 300 pages of private medical records. Those don't exist, at least not with us.  We've never had them, we've never offered to release those, period. That never happened," said Urquhart.

The sheriff says he did give public records from her divorce to journalists that include details about her mental health. 

Yesterday, Pro-Choice Washington held a press conference to object to how he's tried to discredit his female accuser.

KIRO 7 asked Urquhart what message his attempts to discredit his accusers sends to victims of sexual assault who may ask the Sheriff's Office to investigate.

"What people have to understand is not every accuser is a true victim," said Urquhart. “And when I, or anybody, gets criticized for responding to a false allegation all that does is denigrate the true victims because it lumps the accusers in with the true victims and that's not right. There are other victims here, and I'm am one of them. I am one of them."
 

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