Tulalip Resort Casino (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Tulalip Resort Casino (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Tulalip casino security guard may serve no jail time for sex crime

In 2018, a woman accused Travis Sanderson of sexually assaulting her at the Tulalip Resort Casino. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

EVERETT — A former Tulalip Resort Casino security guard who sexually assaulted a guest in her hotel room in 2018 may not serve any jail time, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Karen Moore handed Travis Sanderson, 33, a suspended jail sentence of one year after he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor. Sanderson will essentially be on probation for the next two years, but will not serve any time behind bars as long as he doesn’t get into further trouble with the law.

Gross misdemeanors have a maximum jail sentence of 364 days.

The latest charge was amended from second-degree rape, a felony.

Wednesday’s plea came after a nine-day trial in June that resulted in a “hopelessly deadlocked” jury, court records indicated.

Moore called the decision an “appropriate resolution to put this very old case to rest.”

“No one wants to go back to trial again,” Sanderson’s defense attorney Charles Varni said. “These things are traumatic for everyone involved, including the victim.”

On Aug. 9, 2018, Sanderson was working at the resort when a guest became intoxicated while drinking with her coworkers, according to charging papers. Sanderson reportedly told another guard he would escort the woman, who was visibly unable to walk, back to her hotel room.

He used her key to open the door and went inside with her. Security footage showed Sanderson was in her room for eight minutes, according to court documents. He then exited her room and took the elevator downstairs.

Minutes later, the woman left the room in different clothes. She unsteadily made her way downstairs, distraught, saying the guard had assaulted her. At least three Tulalip police officers responded.

Sanderson told police he was in the room for three to five minutes, and nothing sexual happened. He claimed the woman asked him to set her alarm clock for her. He reportedly said he turned around, saw the woman undressing and left the room.

But days later, the woman underwent a sexual assault exam, according to the charges. Upon learning this, Sanderson admitted to sexual contact with her but claimed it was consensual.

In December 2018, prosecutors charged the security guard with indecent liberties with a person who was incapable of consent, a felony charge. He pleaded not guilty.

Prior to the hung jury from earlier this year, the trial had been delayed several times over the years, including an emergency order in 2020 for COVID that suspended trials.

In September 2021, the defense accused prosecutors of purposely leaving out body camera footage as well as witness interviews during the discovery process, claiming this made them ill-prepared to go to trial.

In September 2022, almost four years after the initial charges, prosecutors amended the allegation to second-degree rape.

In June, the defendant’s attorney asked a judge to dismiss the charges, claiming his right to a speedy trial was violated due to the various disruptions in the legal process. The case still proceeded to trial.

The victim didn’t speak at the hearing Wednesday.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434: maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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