Assault victim sues Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace

EDMONDS — The woman who was sexually assaulted by a former police officer is suing Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, alleging the cities failed to protect her from Daniel Lavely.

Lawyers for the cities have not yet filed responses to the lawsuit, which recently was moved to U.S. District Court in Seattle after the woman alleged her civil rights were violated.

“My clients’ position is they did nothing to cause the injury claim. What Lavely did was outside the scope of his employment and contrary to training and policy,” said Mark Bucklin, an attorney representing Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.

Lavely, 50, is jailed in Texas awaiting trial on an unrelated sex crime. He resigned from the Edmonds Police Department in 2013.

That same year, a Snohomish County jury convicted him of custodial sexual misconduct. Jurors were convinced Lavely forced sex on the woman outside his patrol car behind a clothing store on Highway 99. The woman testified that she was afraid to refuse Lavely. It’s against the law for a police officer to have sex with somebody they are detaining, even if the contact is consensual.

The lawsuit alleges that the woman was raped.

Lavely denied having sex with the woman. He admitted on the stand that he lied about his dealings with her, saying he had simply forgotten to call into dispatchers when he picked the woman up and where he dropped her off. Everett police detectives discovered that Lavely had falsified the record. Video footage showed the woman inside a convenience store at the time Lavely told a dispatcher he dropped her off at a bus stop.

Lavely was sentenced to a year in jail. He also must register as a sex offender for 10 years. The state Court of Appeals earlier this year upheld his conviction.

The Herald is not naming the woman, 32, to protect her identity as a crime victim.

Court records show that she has a warrant for her arrest for failing to meet the conditions of her sentence in a 2012 King County property crime case.

In Lavely’s criminal trial, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell told jurors Lavely targeted the victim because she was a homeless drug addict whom the officer believed was a prostitute.

The woman had been injured by Lynnwood police hours before her encounter with Lavely. Officers broke down the door to her motel room and arrested her for an outstanding warrant out of King County. She was thrown to the ground, where she hit her face and broke a tooth. Seattle police would not pick the woman up and Lynnwood officers declined to drive her to King County. She was released and cited for resisting arrest.

The city of Lynnwood is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, however, Jerry Baker, the woman’s attorney, said Friday that Lynnwood will be dropped from the case.

Lavely found the woman several hours after Lynnwood officers cited her. He escorted her from a motel room and drove her to a secluded location.

The lawsuit alleges that Edmonds failed to do a proper background check on Lavely, a former military police officer. It also claims that the city knew “Lavely was a sexual deviant and granted him access to female members of the public as well as the power to detain women.”

The cities are accused of ignoring “the very alarming culture and custom among their officers to cover up officer misconduct and to disregard the safety of female suspects.”

The lawsuit alleges that the May 7, 2012, assault could have been prevented if a Mountlake Terrace detective properly reported an allegation that Lavely had molested a young relative years ago.

A month before the incident in Edmonds someone came to the off-duty Mountlake Terrace detective to discuss an allegation against Lavely. The detective told the woman to file a report with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. He did not report the allegations, violating the department’s policy, according to a city memo. The detective was suspended for two days.

The detective ignored the report, “which would have prompted an investigation against (Lavely) and prevented him from being able to sexually assault (the plaintiff),” according to the lawsuit.

No trial date has been set.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; Twitter: @dianahefley.

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