John Lovick (left) and Jeff Sax.

John Lovick (left) and Jeff Sax.

Lovick to Sax: Take down website or we may wind up in court

The Democratic state representative’s lawyer has threatened to file a defamation lawsuit.

MILL CREEK — Democratic state Rep. John Lovick has threatened to sue his Republican opponent unless 20-year-old records surrounding sex and child abuse accusations are removed from a website the challenger created.

Lovick, through his attorney, emailed Republican Jeff Sax demanding he shut down the website, The Lovick Files, and stop distributing copies of the defamatory documents associated with it.

No charges were filed in the two-decade-old investigation of allegations that Lovick abused his daughter. Last week, the daughter, Sabrina Lovick Combs, denied her father harmed her and called on Sax to take down the site.

Attorney Todd Nichols of Everett warned in a Sept. 14 email that Sax and his campaign manager could be sued for defamation of Lovick, and invasion of privacy with respect to the daughter, if the records were not removed.

“Your use of scurrilous statements from a 29-year-old divorce action which resulted in no sanction or charges is utterly reprehensible and contrary to the democratic values of our state and country,” Nichols wrote.

A defiant Sax said late Monday the site won’t come down because he firmly believes “the public has the right to know about the public record of the man who holds the gavel in the House of Representatives.”

In a statement, Sax said his campaign did not release the name of any victim and the name of the accuser is redacted in documents online. Lovick, he noted, disclosed his daughter’s name and encouraged her to make public statements defending the her father.

Sax said a lawsuit would provide a chance to gather more information and question the lawmaker under oath.

“We welcome the opportunity to subpoena records that are now hidden from the public,” he said. “If Mr. Lovick sincerely wants his day in court, we will oblige without hesitation.”

Sax, 56, of Snohomish, is a land use consultant and former Snohomish County councilmember. Lovick, 67, a retired Washington State Patrol trooper, is seeking re-election in the 44th Legislative District, which includes the cities of Mill Creek, Lake Stevens and Snohomish. Lovick beat Sax in the primary 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent.

On Sept. 13, Sax’s campaign launched the website. In a statement, he said the public had a right to know and he felt “morally compelled” to disclose the documents. Sax put 11 pages online.

Among those documents is the investigation completed by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in April 1996. The Mill Creek Police Department received the initial complaint and requested county authorities handle it, to avoid any appearance of conflict, because Lovick served on the Mill Creek City Council at the time.

The probe took place roughly seven years after Lovick and his first wife, Deborah, divorced. She would later move to California with two of their children.

In the course of the investigation, Lovick’s ex-wife accused him of sexual misconduct toward their daughter. And a therapist in California who had met with the mother and daughter told a detective that the daughter said in one session that she had been sexually abused by her father.

But the daughter wouldn’t discuss it with the detective, reportedly saying she considered it to be the past and she did not want to bring it up again.

The sexual abuse investigation was closed and no charges filed. Lovick was never interviewed.

Last week, Lovick said the accusations were false. He provided statements from his daughter and son, Jeff, in which they recant allegations they made against him in the early 1990s following the divorce. Lovick eventually posted his daughter’s statement on his Facebook page.

On Friday, Combs wrote on Facebook that the allegations of abuse “are 100% false” and called on Sax and the Republican Party to take down the website.

In a separate statement and interview, Combs said she is not a victim and the attention generated by the website is forcing her to relive the conflict between her parents, which were “some of the most difficult days of my life.”

“My father never hurt me or did inappropriate things with me,” she said. “He is my biggest cheerleader.”

The election is Nov. 6.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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