As he had promised, former Island County Deputy Jay Wallace filed a $1.475 million complaint for damages last week against the county, the Island County Sheriff’s Office and former Sheriff Mike Hawley.
Wallace was fired by Hawley and charged by the Attorney General’s Office with a single gross-misdemeanor count of false swearing in connection with Wallace’s response to a 911 call in February of 2006. He was accused of shirking his duty by not properly responding and lying about it in his report, charges he has strongly and consistently denied.
The long list of complaints Wallace alleges include wrongful termination, civil rights violations, false arrest, defamation and false light, retaliation for seeking political public office, infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision.
Wallace is also protesting his termination through an arbitration process. Sheriff Mark Brown said the judge is expected to make a decision next month.
The allegations against Wallace derailed his run for Island County sheriff, a post that Hawley relinquished. Wallace accused Hawley of making false accusations for political purposes, and as a result, Wallace repeatedly said he would seek legal action against Hawley. Wallace eventually changed parties and ran as a Democrat, but ultimately lost to Brown.
The controversy surrounds a Feb. 7, 2006 incident in Freeland. Wallace was on duty and didn’t properly respond to two 911 calls from a woman who claimed she was held captive and sexually assaulted, the Sheriff’s Office alleged at the time.
Wallace wrote in his report on the incident that he saw a naked woman inside the house who wasn’t in any distress. But in his conversations with dispatchers on the night of the incident, Wallace called the person inside the house “a guy” and referred to the individual as “he” or “him” nine additional times.
A neighbor who Wallace spoke to that night also claimed Wallace said he saw a man inside the house, according to a report on the incident by the Oak Harbor Police Department.
Wallace later explained that the gender difference was simply a slip of the tongue.
The criminal charge against Wallace was dismissed after Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill ruled that his own report on the incident couldn’t be used as evidence against him.
General Services Administration Director Betty Kemp said she turned the complaint over to the county’s risk pool to handle. Under state law, Wallace has to file the complaint with the county before a lawsuit can be filed.
You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or call 675-6611.