State revokes certification of former detective

  • Thu Jul 12th, 2018 2:34pm
  • News

Staff report

The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission revoked the officer certification of former San Juan County Sheriff Detective Stephen Parker on June 26.

Parker, whose last known address is in Fort Myers, Florida, did not return to Washington state to contest the charges against him and the revocation occurred by default.

Parker was the lead detective on a case that charged and convicted former Orcas High School teacher Gerald Grellet-Tinner of sexual misconduct with a student in 2016 in San Juan County Superior Court. The charges and conviction were thrown out the following year after a report alleged that Parker was having relations with the same student during the investigation and trial. Parker resigned and moved to Florida in 2016 without facing any criminal charges.

According to Sonja Peterson at the training commission, Parker cannot be an officer in Washington for the next five years. After that time, he could petition to have his certification reinstated if he has not had any similar misconduct and he doesn’t have a felony preventing him from carrying a firearm.

The revocation will be on his record permanently.

Commission charges

The training commission charged Parker with one count of official misconduct and/or failure of duty and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant and/or false swearing.

According to commission documents, Parker is facing misconduct because he wilfully neglected to perform his duty as an officer and that his actions involved dishonesty and/or a false statement.

Parker made a false or misleading statement when “he voluntarily submitted a signed statement under penalty of perjury to Deputy Lori Sigman of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office [the third party who investigated Parker’s relationship with the victim]. Parker’s sworn statement contained a materially false account of his relationship with [the victim],” according to the charging documents.

On Aug. 8, 2016 Parker wrote in that statement, “I have never had any type of relationship with whether physical, sexual or emotional with [the victim].”

Skagit County’s investigation concluded this was not the case. Skagit’s final report alleged that Parker had an inappropriate relationship with the crime victim, showed disrespectful conduct toward her, used aliases to hide communication with her and shared details of other cases.

Despite this conclusion, the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges against Parker. The prosecutor told the Seattle Times that none of the charges could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Citizen charges

In 2017, Grellet-Tinner’s attorney Nick Power sent a press release stating they would be seeking $10 million in compensation for damages stemming from the alleged violation of his constitutional rights by the county.

In early June 2018, Grellet-Tinner sought to charge Parker with the gross misdemeanors of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant and obstructing a law enforcement officer. Grellet-Tinner used the same example as the training commission, which was Parker’s voluntary statement.

Power, who represented Grellet-Tinner for the citizen charges, claimed he was on a mission to provide justice. Power has adamantly stated that charges should have been filed when Parker’s misconduct came to light in 2016.

In an April 22 edition of the Seattle Times, San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord and the Skagit prosecutor blamed each other for not filing charges.

San Juan County District Court Judge Stewart Andrew rejected the petition brought by Grellet-Tinner on June 20. Andrew noted in his ruling that the criminal charges could sway the $10 million lawsuit in Grellet-Tinner’s favor, which was an improper motive for seeking the charges.

Andrew also reasoned that the prosecutor’s office was correct in not filing charges, therefore there was no argument for a citizen to pursue charges.

“The prosecutor’s office has shown no bad faith or inappropriate reasons for not filing charges against Mr. Parker,” wrote Andrew.

Other cases

Parker’s questionable conduct was responsible for reduced charges or dismissal of three sex crime cases in San Juan County. In addition to the Grellet-Tinner case, a former San Juan Island soccer coach, originally charged with the rape of a child, agreed to a plea deal of a misdemeanor on July 12, 2017. According to prosecutors, Parker failed to report the incident to them. A year after the alleged crime occurred, the victim’s parents came to the sheriff’s office to complain that no action had been taken. Sheriff Ron Krebs asked a deputy to investigate the case. The deputy found three recorded interviews made by Parker: two from the victim and one from the coach. These initial files never made it to the prosecutor’s office.

The third case involved rape charges of a 20-month-old child, which were dropped to molestation charges on Jan. 6, 2017 because the perpetrator’s confession to Parker was thrown out by the judge.

Both Parker and Tinner maintain their innocence to this day.