By Cathy Logg
EVERETT — The city attorney on Friday received a formal complaint from a woman who alleges police officers took away her career, her trust and her virginity.
One officer also got her pregnant, she claims.
Seattle attorney Chris Osborn plans to file the complaint Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court against the city of Everett, three current or former police officers and the Boy Scouts of America Explorer Program. His client is seeking damages to be determined at trial.
The individuals being sued are detective Robert Johns; former Sgt. Frank Gibson, who left the police department in August 1994; and former officer Newlin "Jack" White, who left in March 2000. None of the men could not be reached for comment Friday.
Sandra Nash, now 25 and studying to be an engineer, says three married officers engaged her in sexual relationships when she was a teen-ager in the department’s Explorer program.
City attorney Mark Soine received the complaint Friday.
"We’re in the process of reviewing it," he said. "It’s a matter the city takes very seriously."
The complaint alleges that the officers took advantage of her trust and abused their positions, engaged Nash in sexual relationships, often conducting trysts while they were on duty, and that the department did nothing to discipline the officers.
"There have been some investigations in this," Soine said Friday. "I don’t have copies of those and I have not had an opportunity to review those in comparison to the complaint."
In a letter to The Herald, Soine said Nash’s allegations regarding Gibson were revealed after he left the police department and no investigation occurred; and the allegations against the other two officers were investigated and not substantiated.
The suit claims emotional distress and other damages. Her accusations against the defendants include negligent hiring, supervision and retention of the officers, negligence based on the special relationship created by her participation in the program and their failure to protect her from harm, breach of contract, sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery.
Nash joined the Explorer program in 1991 when she was 15, according to the complaint. In her application, she indicated she joined because she wanted to become a law enforcement officer and she hoped the program would bolster her self-esteem.
The program provides training to youths ages 14 to 21 who are interested in a law enforcement career. Explorers participate in liquor stings, training, the DARE program, rides with officers, and other activities, the complaint said.
Program guidelines call for two adult leaders to be present for trips and outings, leaders of both sexes to be present for coeducational events, and prohibits one-on-one activities between Explorers and adults, Nash says. Her complaint says all of those were violated.
In recent years, allegations of inappropriate conduct between police and Explorers have popped up across the country. A former police officer in Bandon, Ore., pleaded guilty earlier this year to having sex with an underage female Explorer. In Largo, Fla., two officers were suspended and one resigned after an inquiry last year into whether they had sex with Explorers. And in February, two deputies lost their jobs with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado after similar allegations surfaced.
Gibson was a police sergeant and an Explorer adviser when Nash joined the program. She alleges that in 1993, when she was 17, Gibson engaged in sexual relations with her and that she "reluctantly participated out of misguided trust and respect for Gibson." At the time, he was married and the father of three children, the complaint said.
The relationship began with sexual activity while Gibson was on duty and led to sexual intercourse in which she lost her virginity, Nash alleges.
Another Explorer post adviser, officer Rodney Sniffen, told Nash that people in the office were talking about her relationship with Gibson and that he had told them "she was not that way," according to the document.
Nash contends that Sniffen’s alleged indifference to Gibson’s conduct was typical of the department’s response as a whole regarding her sexual relationships with the officers. Sniffen didn’t investigate the allegations, didn’t confront Gibson and didn’t protect Nash from Gibson, the complaint contends.
The following year, Nash participated in several liquor stings with Johns, who was a detective at the time, according to the complaint, which says Johns allowed Nash and other minors to drink alcohol on those occasions. After one sting, she contends, Johns showed her pornography and invited himself to her home.
White allegedly began a sexual relationship with her when she was 18.
"On several occasions, he would repeatedly call her on his city cell phone and page her from his patrol car when he wanted to have sex. Their relationship continued until she became pregnant by defendant White in 1996. Defendant White pressured and threatened Ms. Nash to have an abortion, which she did not do," the complaint said.
The document says White admitted his relationship with Nash to his supervisors, but neither city, police nor Boy Scout officials disciplined him.
In 1995, Nash says, she was forced to resign from the program. She reapplied in 1996, but her application was rejected. She gave birth that same year. The complaint does not say why she was forced out of the program.
Jones and White remained employed by the department, and Johns was promoted to sergeant. City attorney Soine said Gibson and White’s departures from the department were not connected to Nash’s allegations.
You can call Herald Writer Cathy Logg at 425-339-3437
or send e-mail to email@example.com.