King County Sheriff John Urquhart won’t face charges in alleged groping case

Prosecutor agreed probable cause existed that crime was committed, but found alleged groping didn’t rise to felony legal standard, deadline to charge “most applicable” misdemeanor offense had passed.

Prosecutors won’t file criminal charges against King County Sheriff John Urquhart based on a former deputy’s claim that Urquhart groped him outside a Renton restaurant in 2014.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe wrote Friday he has declined to file a criminal case following his review of a two-month Renton police investigation that found probable cause that Urquhart allegedly committed a potential sex crime against Brian Barnes.

Roe, in a letter to the case investigator explaining his legal reasoning, said he agreed probable cause had been met to consider charges, but he determined the alleged groping did not rise to the legal standard for a felony indecent liberties, and the statute of limitations already has passed on the alternative gross misdemeanor charge of assault with sexual motivation.

“In my opinion, and that of other Senior Special Assault Unit deputies I have discussed the case with, the incident as described by the alleged victim simply doesn’t constitute Indecent Liberties,” Roe wrote in his letter.

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Urquhart, who lost his re-election bid in November, has denied the allegations and called them politically motivated to sabotage his campaign. He is suing Barnes for defamation.

Neither Urquhart nor Barnes immediately responded to requests for comment.

An indecent liberties charge would require proof of “forcible compulsion,” but Roe noted that by Barnes’ own account to investigators, he was “completely successful in rebuffing the brief physical contact” so it didn’t rise to the charge’s legal standard.

The prosecutor did not weigh whether he believed Barnes’ allegation or not, adding he believed that the police investigation was fair and thorough.

“That decision absolutely does not mean that I either believed or disbelieved the alleged victim, nor does it mean I accepted or rejected Mr. Urquhart’s version of events,” Roe wrote. “ It means that we aren’t going to file any criminal charges. That’s all it means.”

Roe’s decision comes after he spent more than two weeks reviewing Renton Police Commander Dan Figaro’s investigation into Barnes’ allegation against Urquhart. King County prosecutors…

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