By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — A former Edmonds police officer was convicted Thursday of having sex with a woman in his custody.
Daniel Lavely is facing up to a year in jail. He will be required to register as a sex offender for a decade.
Lavely, 48, shook his head in disbelief after the verdict was announced. His girlfriend collapsed to her knees.
Jurors spent about 2 1/2 days deliberating after a nearly two-week trial. Two jurors were visibly upset Thursday afternoon, crying as the judge polled each person to confirm the verdict. They could be seen hugging each other as they were led back into the jury room.
Jurors convicted Lavely of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct. It is against the law for a police officer to have sex with somebody they are detaining, even if the contact is consensual.
On Thursday, a judge allowed Lavely to remain free until he’s sentenced on Sept. 23. The former military police officer resigned from the Edmonds Police Department in January after his bosses completed an internal investigation into the May 7, 2012, incident.
The criminal case boiled down to whether jurors believed Lavely’s version of events, or the testimony of the victim.
The woman, 30, told jurors that Lavely removed her from an Edmonds motel room and drove her to the parking lot of a clothing store along Highway 99. She admitted she agreed to have sex with him, but said that she was afraid of the officer. She testified that a earlier in the night a Lynnwood police officer chipped her tooth during a struggle.
Jurors were told that the woman had a lengthy criminal history and is currently serving time in prison. They also learned that she was high on methamphetamine when she encountered Lavely.
“He was counting on her to not tell, but more importantly he was counting on people not believing her because of who she is, who she was in May 2012,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell said in closing arguments.
The prosecutor said Lavely targeted the woman because she was a homeless drug addict whom the officer believed was a prostitute. Her dropped her off behind a clothing store “like a piece of garbage,” Cornell said. He refuted Lavely’s claims that he intended to help the woman.
Lavely testified for about three hours Monday and adamantly denied having sex with the woman. He told jurors the woman propositioned him for sex while she was in the back of his patrol car. He said he dropped her off behind the store just to get her out of his car. He admitted he could have arrested her for soliciting him for sex, but he said he was too upset and uncomfortable.
The defense called Lavely a victim of a “modern-day witch hunt.” His client, an ambitious police officer, spent his career upholding and enforcing the law, defense attorney Bradley Johnson said. It doesn’t make sense that he would jeopardize his career or his relationship with his girlfriend to have sex with a meth addict, Johnson said.
“It’s completely inconceivable and inconsistent with what you know officer Lavely to be,” Johnson said.
Lavely, however, admitted that he’d lied to protect his self-interests. Everett police investigated the allegations and discovered that Lavely had falsified the record about when he took the woman from the motel and when he dropped her off.
Video footage showed the woman inside a convenience store at the time Lavely told a dispatcher he dropped her off at the bus stop. He testified that he had simply forgotten to let dispatchers know when he picked up the woman from the motel. He said he lied because he was worried his mistake would cost him a possible promotion.
Cornell argued that Lavely lied to cover up his crime. He said when the officer was confronted with the truth he “zigged and zagged and bobbed and weaved” because he couldn’t keep his lies straight.
“The truth is easy. The truth is a straight line,” Cornell said. “This case is about the truth.”
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.