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Sheriff Urquhart sues ex-deputy who accused him of sexual assault

King County Sheriff John Urquhart. (KOMO file photo){p}{/p}
King County Sheriff John Urquhart. (KOMO file photo)

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SEATTLE -- King County Sheriff John Urquhart has filed a defamation lawsuit after a former deputy came forward with allegations that Urquhart sexually assaulted him in 2014 outside of a Renton restaurant.

Brian Barnes, 49, sent an email to the King County Sheriff's Office in September with the allegations. Barnes claimed Urquhart touched his crotch outside of the Yankee Grill after the two met for dinner.

Urquhart denies the allegations.

"The heinous and outrageous allegations made against me by former deputy Brian Barnes are not true, and a blatant, last minute attempt to sway an election," said Urquhart in a news release.

The Sheriff's Office requested Renton police do a full investigation of the allegations. Renton Police Commander Dave Leibman confirmed that the department is investigating the sexual assault and that the department plans to forward the investigation to prosecutors for a filing decision.

KOMO obtained personnel, disciplinary and settlement files for Barnes through a public records request. It shows commendations from community members who Barnes helped during his career at the Sheriff's Office and also highlights a long history of Barnes' filing complaints and grievances against his superiors and co-workers.

In 2015, Barnes was facing termination and reached a settlement agreement with the Sheriff's Office. Barnes, who was hired at the Sheriff’s Office in October 2006, received more than $100,000 in the settlement and resigned in October 2015.

Both Barnes and Urquhart now argue the other has violated the terms of that settlement.

In light of Barnes' new claims, Urquhart filed a complaint for damages on Wednesday.

"Barnes has been terrorizing people with impunity he doesn't like for far too long. It's time for Barnes to be held responsible for his actions," Urquhart wrote in the news release.

Urquhart released to the media on Wednesday the results of his polygraph examination that was done on Oct. 23. The polygraph was to determine if Urquhart had any sexual contact with Barnes, and found "no deception indicated." The polygraph was conducted by Norman Matzke, a nationally certified polygraph operator. Matzke is the same person who Urquhart hired to do the polygraph examination for Urquhart's Chief of Staff Chris Barringer before he started at the academy. During a 2016 deposition in an unrelated case, Urquhart said he hired Matzke, who is not the in-house polygraph operator for the Sheriff's Office, to do the examination after Barringer's first polygraph leaked out. The results of Barringer’s polygraph examinations have also been a point of contention among people in the Sheriff’s Office.

Barnes, who is currently a police officer in Massachusetts, did not respond to messages on Wednesday. He previously reached out to KOMO via email and phone to share information about the allegations. Barnes would only agree to an on-camera interview with KOMO if we planned to immediately broadcast the interview-- Barnes didn't want KOMO to wait until the completion of the Renton police investigation.

Earlier this week, a King County judge granted a temporary order of protection against Urquhart that was filed by a woman who's also a former deputy.

The woman claimed Urquhart raped her back in 2002, but did not file a complaint until 2016. After an investigation, the allegations never resulted in criminal charges. Earlier this year, the prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence and that it was beyond the statute of limitations.

In the order filed Monday, the woman says Urquhart offered to share her medical records. Her petition included an excerpt from an email that was sent by Equal Rights Washington last Friday to its supporters, which mentions that Urquhart used the woman's medical file to discredit her.

"I don't know the credibility of the claim, but I do know that in an effort to prove otherwise I should have never been offered such personal information," said Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington.

Harrell says Barringer offered those medical files to her during a phone conversation in May.

Barringer acknowledged he spoke with Harrell by phone, but strongly denies the claim.

Urquhart delivered a binder late last year to KOMO containing the woman's emails, text message and divorce paperwork.

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A hearing on the protection order involving the alleged female victim is scheduled for next Tuesday, Nov. 7- - Election Day.

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