The fallout from the employment of Stephen Parker, the disgraced former San Juan County detective who had sex with an alleged victim in a case he was investigating, continues. His actions caused a new trial to be ordered in one case; child rape charges reduced in another case; charges dropped in a third. Now some people are debating if Sheriff Ron Krebs and Prosecutor Randy Gaylord lied when they answered questions about Parker from the county Council at its January 24, 2017 meeting.
An anonymous group has posted excerpts from the January 24 meeting on Youtube along with comments. The VIDEO of the entire meeting can be watched on the county's website. (The discussion in question starts at 1:59).
In an effort to present the facts, San Juan Islander Editor Sharon Kivisto interviewed Prosecutor Gaylord, Sheriff Krebs, and Deputy Jeff Asher this past week. Their statements contradict each other. It'll be up to the reader to make their own judgment on what to believe.
After a lengthy recitation of the history of Parker's sexual relationship with the victim in the case of the Orcas Island teacher accused of having sex with a student, San Juan County Councilmember Bill Watson asked, "So Sheriff or Randy, is there any process, any training, any action we should take trying to to help insure, as we look at our own internal processes, our own internal controls, our own internal checkpoints that should be done or could be done in response to?"
Prosecutor Gaylord said, "As prosecutor I feel like I am the gate keeper and a person who is given charge to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen. As the sheriff said, I'm saddened by it, shocked by it. Believe me in our office, we've looked left and right before and said what did we miss, what goes wrong. All I can say is I think we do a good job here in this county particularly in this regard. This is the first time something like this has happened in 20 years. So there have been very few past instances of anything that even comes close to this. Washington state has really good training academy for new officers. It's just important that we be ever vigilant for small things that can lead to big things like this. I'd say that we were vigilant in this case. I was as shocked as anyone. Even looking back, first thing I did was I asked the Sheriff to look back, "Would you please look at the full employment file see if there was something in there you didn't catch'. He looked at it and said 'no, there wasn't anything in there'. There was a good effort to try to identify this in advance. I do not know what I would have done differently."
"We looked back through this. I can't think of anything we would have done differently or could have done differently to identify this. It is one of those things that is unidentifiable," said Sheriff Krebs. "We followed his background all the way to the Pentagon. We went overboard and nothing, nobody anywhere had anything bad to say about him, so at what point. Tragic."
Neither man mentioned the warning from Deputy Jeff Asher in December of 2014, cautioning the Sheriff about hiring Parker.
In an interview Thursday, October 18, 2018 Asher said he was contacted by Martin Sinclair, his former Field Training Officer from his National Park Service Days, after Sinclair heard Parker telling people he was going to be in charge of investigations in San Juan County. Asher says he suggested Krebs follow up on the information.
In an interview on October 16, 2018 Krebs says Asher didn't provide him with Sinclair's name or a number to call when he passed on the warning. Asher says that is not true.
A December 20, 2014 email from Krebs to Gaylord indicates both men were aware of the warning. It says:
I have a favor to ask you. Would you mind calling the Chouteau County, PA and speak to him about Stephen Parker. Mr. Parker is the new detective that I hired for work with Lach. He is currently the Chief Investigator for the USAF and also works for the Chouteau County Sheriff part time also.
Jeff came to me with a pretty grandiose story of lies, changing statements, hiding evidence, destroying evidence, fabricating victim statements and other issues regarding Stephen Parker. I find it hard to believe that Brent would miss ALL of that and that Mr. Parker could pass the Pysch and Polygraph. I looked at Brents background investigation on Parker. It was very thorough and it took him all the way to the Pentagon and everyone had nothing but great things to say about him.
Jeff claims he was contacted by an attorney friend of his from Montana. The attorney's names is Martin Sinclair (maybe he has an axe to grind with Parker.
He was passed his background checks with flying colors however, I am doing my due diligence here to make sure this is not a substantiated claim on Jeff's part. I would call him, but I thought maybe he would be more inclined to talk to you. We do have a release of information that Parker signed if it is needed. I just want to make sure we are not putting the wrong person in the detectives office.
Gaylord emails Krebs on December 25:
I am out of the office until January 2. If this can wait until then, I will make the call upon my return. I know hiring issues are sensitive, but I think that Emma Scanlon should follow up on this is my absence. I ask that she contact you directly before making any calls.
Scanlon emails Krebs December 29:
Please let me know if I can be of assistance in Randy's absence.
Krebs emails Scanlon:
I will call you this afternoon if I get back into cell service in time. If not then I will stop by and see you tomorrow.
Gaylord said he didn't call the people mentioned in the email because he broke his knee skiing and by the time he returned to the county, Parker was already employed.
Asked in an interview, Monday, October 15, 2018, if his Deputy Prosecutor had made the call, he answered, "There is no writing that explains what happened with Emma."
San Juan Island Editor: "Have you asked Emma if she called him?"
"Emma doesn't have a clear recollection from what I understand. She doesn't have a writing to confirm it. That's what I have," said Gaylord. "I can't say what happens. Elections aren't the place where we decide what happened on things that aren't verifiable. So that's that. Interviews with you are not the place where I can answer that question. Because I don't know. I didn't make the phone call."
San Juan Island Editor: "You can't even answer if you asked her about it?"
Prosecutor Gaylord said, "You know, it doesn't help me to say that. I have not asked her to put her recollection in writing."
Krebs said he thinks Scanlon called the Chouteau Prosecutor. "My recollection is that yes she did and that they had nothing," he said. There is nothing in writing.
Asked if he misled the council about the lack of any type of warning, Gaylord said no. "The discussion was what transcribed. There was no point in time that the discussion focused on. It was not about two days in December 2014. I didn't think a rumor from Jeff Asher was something that was being asked about."
A sworn statement from Martin Sinclair signed September 17, 2018 was received by the San Juan County Prosecutor's office.
I am an attorney and am licensed to practice law in Montana, among other states. At one time I served as a U.S. Airf Force reserve judge advocate, assigned to the staff judge advocate's office. at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls, Montana.
During a portion of my time at Malmstrom AFB, Stephen Parker was a civilian MAFB security forces investigator. I did no have any formal relationship with Parker. I did not supervise him or work directly with him. I am a former law enforcement officer and Parker and I sometimes spoke about law enforcement matters, given our shared background.
I am aware that Parker applied to become a San Juan County deputy in 2014.
If I had been contacted by officials from San Juan County in 2014 about Parker's employment I would have told them that Parker related to me a story of being terminated from a prior law enforcement job because he used the word "chief" to refer to others on the job. Parker told me his use of the word "chief" was deemed racially insensitive. I would not have related more information about Parker than this.
After Asher saw the video of the January 24, 2017 meeting he contacted Gaylord and asked that the Washington State Patrol conduct an investigation regarding the statements made by Krebs that there were no indications of any concerns about Parker.
Gaylord declined to ask the WSP to look into the matter. He wrote: "There is no writing in the file regarding your contact with the undersheriff, former Sheriff Nou or Sheriff-elect Krebs regarding your concerns about the hiring of Stephen Parker, which you have acknowledged...Sheriff Krebs' statement to the Council concerned only that short period of time prior to the hiring of Stephen Parker in late November 2014, and it only concerned information he gleaned from the file. It did not concern information learned after that time. ....Under these circumstances I conclude that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the statement of Sheriff Krebs was false or misleading.
Here is what is said on the videotape starting at 1:59
"I wanted to answer some questions that have been asked of me by you and others about Stephen Parker. and so I want to provide some background, tell you what my office has done with respect to Mr. Parker, what happened in court, what's been public about that, and also what has happened most recently and hasn't been mentioned in court yet.
"The sheriff and I have had a lot of discussions since July of last year and so I'll go over those. I am going to talk about the background and some things that guide the prosecutors in these kind of context, a letter I wrote back in October and a letter I received from Skagit County Prosectuor in early January.
"In general background, in fall of 2014, Stephen Parker was hired to be a deputy on Lopez Island by former Sheriff Rob Nou. He started in January of 2015 and he was immediately given the task of being a detective. He had experience in being detective so that fit and there was another person who could be assigned to the position on Lopez Island which was Sheriff Nou, former Sheriff Nou.
"In mid October Stephen Parker was assigned to work on a case in which the Orcas School superintendent reported that a student had said that she had sex with a teacher. That case led to arrest of the teacher and eventual trial in June of 2016.
"The teacher was found guilty of two counts of sexual misconduct in the first degree after a jury trial. Now between the time that the jury trial concludes and sentencing, there was a longer than normal period.
"In July of that year, the victim was asked to talk to someone from Department of Corrections and after that conversation she was also meeting with a member of the prosecuting attorney's victim advocate office, victim services office. In that conversation there was a disclosure that the victim in the teacher case had had a relationship with the detective who had investigated that case. And so there was a followup to that to ask about the nature of that relationship and it was believed that it was a sexual relationship. That was of course of great concern to me, when I learned about that in late July. Because I, shock, had heard anything about it. nothing had come to me that suggested anything that that was the case. Requested a followup. Sheriff agreed and that it should be done be independent agency and that he would contact Skagit Sheriff to see if they would agree to do that.
"Skagit Sheriff agreed, Skagit Sheriff's Office Deputy Lori Sigman was assigned to follow up, She interviewed Stephen Parker and interviewed the victim in the case. and then she wrote a report and that report has been published and is in the court file. Deputy Sigman concluded that the report of the victim was not substantiated because the victim said it didn't happen. And she also talked to Stephen Parker and he had written a note, a statement made under oath, in which he said there was no relationship between the two. And so if both people said that there was no relationship, a relationship could not be substantiated. There were curious points that Deputy Sigman saw and so that was part of her report and it was provided to the court.
"Along with that came motions from the lawyer for the teacher. Following onto those motions, trial judge granted new trial. quickly we appealed that decision. Appeal is pending.
"Shortly after the appeal was filed. I spoke with the victim.
"Meeting with the victim came up because the victim called me at my office and asked me questions that indicated she was concerned for herself and her family. She was feared that because of what happened Sheriff deputies would make her life difficult, life of her family difficult and there was a possibility she could be deported or run off island. I was concerned about those fears and I asked if she would agree to meet with me and tell me the truth. She said she would. I told her I would wear the tie that I wore to court, because we had had a conversation before, it's called my "Truth tie" and I'm wearing it here today. And I said if you have any questions about what to say in court, you just look at the tie and tell the truth, and I'll wear the tie to the meeting. I wore that tie to the meeting and she told the truth. Meeting lasted four and a half hours. She told of sexual relationship between herself and Stephen Parker."
"Report was written and follow on to that determined by Skagit Sheriff that case should be assigned to what is known as the Smart Team in Skagit County."
Delays were caused because the Smart Team was assigned to the investigation of the Cascade Mall shooting and the shooting of a Mount Vernon police officer. When Smart Team was able to work on the Parker case, Gaylord received enough information to write a Brady letter, noting potential impeachment.
"...The integrity of our justice system is built first on honesty and truth at every step of the process and we have this duty to disclose any exculpatory evidence." So law enforcement has to tell us about any misconduct, dishonesty, or untoward action that might
"So I wrote a letter October 2016. It was a potential impeachment letter. In this letter I write, that I have credible information about potential impeachment involving Stephen Parker. Regarding allegations of gross neglect of duty, lack of candor or truthfulness and perhaps others. Preliminary Brady Letter before investigation is done, it puts people on alert as we had ongoing cases involving Stephen Parker at this time...
"Stephen Parker was put on paid administrative leave.
"On January 3, 2017, just after first of year I received letter from the criminal division of the Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Deputy Prosecutor Russel Brown reviewed the case. He was looking for any crime that occurred by Stephen Parker. Reviewed two things. First considered whether there was a sex crime. Conclusion and I uote: A few portions of the sexual encounters were not completely consensual. We can not prove a sexual crime beyond a reasonable doubt.' Second crime was witness tampering due to communications between SP and victim in months of July, August and September 2016. ..They concluded first element which is trying to induce someone to testify falsely - would be difficult to prove. While it is clear he was trying to put pressure on victim the language he used was to ask the victim to fix it. Left up to her the method by which that would occur. With that and the other elements being difficult to prove. They concluded that it was inappropriate to bring any criminal charges against Stephen Parker.
"We would allow criminal process to go through before any administrative process.
"In late December Parker resigned."
"So following the investigation, the criminal investigation that Skagit did, that they concluded on January 3, 2017 of this year. We started doing our own internal investigation on the allegations that were made. We found that there were numerous county policies and codes of ethics that were violated. SP stated under penalty of perjury, to Detective Lori Sigman that he did not have any emotional, physical relationship with victim of any kind. He did that under penalty of perjury and under oath. We find that not to be true. And therefore his statement was not credible.
"When the victim met with Randy and the detective from Skagit County and Theresa. She gave very specific times that these allegations took place.
"Based on those time, we went through logs, cell phone records, and a motel receipt to verify these dates and times, we feel they are substantiated. Find that they are credible. Based on what she said. Spellman records and everything else. He used the county patrol car, Department ferry pass, cell phone, in my opinion abuse of authority. We are in a position of authority and trust, he violated that position of authority to enter into this sexual relationship."
"Parker used an alias of his cousin from somewhere in the midwest... He shared details of another high profile sex case that had to do with children and young kids... She was able to relay and tell these details of this case. He had continued interactions and communications with the victim dating all the way back to November 2016 including the night before she was to testify. He made statements about county and employees to hinder this investigation to kind of try to throw us off the trail. Based on our internal investigation, had he not resigned he absolutely would have been terminated....We believe he will be decertified. Based on decertification, the Brady letter and not to mention our personnel file it is my hope he is never a police officer again."
County Commissioner Rich Hughes asked if the county could go after perjury charges or anything else.
"Part of making decision to give to another county is to respect their decision which is what I will do, respect their decision and decline. I know the decline decision is a hard one. But it is one I feel it is appropriate to honor and give respect to adjoining prosecuting attorney."
The report from Skagit County did not mention perjury charges. In the Monday, October 15, 2018 interview, Gaylord produced an August 28, 2018 letter from the Skagit Prosecutor Richard Weyrich that stated that perjury charges should not be pursued.
"Everybody to a man in my office is just sickened by what happened. We all seem to lose on this and it's tough. Especially for the people who go out everyday and work very hard and give everything they have to the community. Saddens me and sickens me to have to sit in front of you guys and this county and explain what happened here."
So Sheriff or Randy, is there any process, any training, any action we should take trying to to help insure, as we look at our own internal processes, our own internal controls, our own internal checkpoints that should be done or could be done in response to?
"As prosecutor I feel like I am the gate keeper and a person who is given charge to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen. As the sheriff said, I'm saddened by it, shocked by it. Believe me in our office, we've looked left and right before and said what did we miss, what goes wrong. All I can say is I think we do a good job here in this county particularly in this regard. This is the first time something like this has happened in 20 years. So there have been very few past instances of anything that even comes close to this. Washington state has really good training academy for new officers. It's just important that we be ever vigilant for small things that can lead to big things like this. I'd say that we were vigilant in this case. I was as shocked as anyone. Even looking back, first thing I did was I asked the Sheriff to look back, would you please look at the full employment file see if there was something in there you didn't catch. He looked at it and said no there wasn't anything in there. There was a good effort to try to identify this in advance. I do not know what I would have done differently."
"I'll continue to look people on a case by case basis. Obviously we want the best. I feel the people we are bringing in are the best. We are very fortunate the kind of people we've been able to hire in the past few years. We will continue to look and get the cream of the crop... Have mission and value statement we all take when we are sworn in. We take it very seriously. Unique thing about San Juan County, we are small and we do take every thing seriously.
"We looked back through this. I can't think of anything we would have done differently or could have done differently to identify this. It is one of those things that is unidentifiable. We followed his background all the way to the Pentagon. We went overboard and nothing, nobody anywhere had anything bad to say about him, so at what point. Tragic."
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