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Rape allegation against Morton police officer is under investigation; prosecutor awaits additional information
Possible rape charges against an officer with the Morton Police Department are being considered by the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.
A charging decision had not been made as of Thursday, Sept. 28.
The Chronicle is choosing not to name the officer at this time because he is not facing criminal charges.
The officer is accused of meeting with a woman who he met on Tinder a couple months prior for consensual sex on March 30 and ignoring the woman’s repeated commands for him to stop.
The woman reported the incident to law enforcement personnel on March 31, at which time the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation.
In a text message conversation dated several hours after the incident, screenshots of which were included in the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigation report, the officer responded to the woman’s statement “I said stop and you didn’t. You should have stopped,” with “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you.”
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office arrested the officer at 5 p.m. on April 2, according to documents, but he was released and charges were not filed a that time.
The officer repeated his claim “he did not once hear (the woman) tell him to stop” in an interview with a Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective on April 2, according to the documents.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office referred the case to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office in April with a recommendation to charge the officer with one count of third-degree rape: a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
The results of the victim’s sexual assault kit from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab were sent to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office on Aug. 2, according to the sheriff’s office.
The prosecutor’s office has all the documentation it needs from the sheriff’s office but is “awaiting other information” before making a charging decision, according to Field Operations Bureau Chief Dusty Breen.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer confirmed that information to The Chronicle on Sept. 27.
Details on what additional information the prosecutor’s office is waiting for were not disclosed.
The officer was not placed on administrative leave at any point during the investigation, according to the Morton Police Department. He was relegated to desk duty for about two weeks in August as a result of a civil protection order the victim obtained from Lewis County District Court on Aug. 11, which required the officer to surrender all firearms — including his service weapon.
A Lewis County District Court judge granted an amendment to the protection order when it was renewed on Aug. 28 to allow the officer “to possess his service weapon while on duty for the Morton Police Department,” according to court documents. The order required the officer to store his service weapon at the police station while off duty.
The protection order was dismissed on Sept. 21 after the victim failed to appear at a hearing to have it renewed, according to court documents.
When contacted by a Chronicle reporter on Sept. 28, Acting Police Chief Cole Cournyer said he was told the case had been dismissed due to insufficient evidence. An employee with the Morton Police Department told a Chronicle reporter the officer had told them the case was fully resolved with the dismissal of the protection order on Sept. 21.
Cournyer took over the Morton police chief position after former police chief Roger Morningstar resigned from the position on June 2.
Morningstar was chief of the Morton Police Department while the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into the rape allegations was ongoing.