By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — A former Edmonds police officer accused of having sex with a woman while he was on duty last year is expected to eventually testify at his felony trial, which started Tuesday.
Daniel Lavely’s attorney told jurors that his client wants to set the record straight. Lavely, 48, maintains that he didn’t have sex with the woman. Instead, Lavely is expected to testify that the woman asked him for money and then propositioned him for sex when he refused to give her any cash, Bradley Johnson said.
His client has been falsely accused of a humiliating crime by a woman who wanted to “further her self interests,” Johnson said during opening statements. Jurors were told that the woman has previous convictions for theft, possession of stolen property and making a false statement. They also were told that she was high on drugs when Lavely encountered her.
The woman is expected to testify this week.
Prosecutors charged Lavely in November with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct following an investigation by Everett police detectives. They allege that Lavely escorted the woman, 28, from a motel room and placed her in the back of his patrol car. She told police that Lavely drove her to a deserted parking lot along Highway 99 and ordered out of the car. That’s when she says he fondled her and then engaged in sex with her.
It is against the law for a police officer to have sex with somebody they are detaining, even if the contact is consensual.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell told jurors that Lavely abused his authority and selected the “perfect target” — a homeless, drug-addicted and vulnerable woman without a place in society.
“This case is about the balance of power,” Cornell said.
Lavely had all the power and the woman was powerless, the deputy prosecutor said.
The officer then lied to cover up his acts, Cornell told jurors.
Video surveillance footage proves that Lavely falsified his reports about when the woman was in his car. The video also conflicts with where he said he drove her, Cornell explained. The woman is seen in a convenience store at the same time Lavely radioed in that he’d dropped her off near a bus stop over the county line.
Johnson told jurors that Lavely “fibbed” about when he picked up and dropped off the woman only because he had forgotten to tell dispatchers that he was giving the woman a ride from Andy’s Motel. He was planning to drop her off in Shoreline because she was causing trouble at the motel and Seattle police refused to pick her up for the arrest warrant she had out of King County.
Lavely later forgot to radio in when he dropped her off because he was so “flustered” by the woman’s proposition and being “aggressively hit on,” Johnson said.
Jurors were told that the woman waved a condom around. Once she was out of the car, Lavley said the woman pulled her pants partially down, trying to seduce the officer. He left the woman standing in the parking lot, near a homeless encampment, Johnson said.
Lavley realized minutes later that he’d forgotten to call dispatch. He was worried that his chances at being promoted to sergeant would be jeopardized if his superiors found out that he hadn’t radioed in his locations, Johnson said. That’s the only reason he made up the times, the attorney said.
Lavely was put on administrative leave in May 2012 when the allegations surfaced. He resigned in January after the Edmonds police internal investigation was completed.
Lavely became an officer with Edmonds in 2004, joining the department after serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy as a naval police officer.
The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service opened an investigation after Lavely was arrested. Allegations surfaced that he molested a young relative while he was enlisted in the U.S. Navy, Cornell wrote in charging papers.
The status of that investigation wasn’t immediately clear. An officer with the NCIS attended Tuesday’s court hearing.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.