San Juan County District Court Judge Stewart Andrew has rejected a petition brought by Gerald Grellet-Tinner, of Orcas Island, to file a citizen complaint for a misdemeanor charge against former county detective Stephen Parker.
“The prosecutor’s office has shown no bad faith or inappropriate reasons for not filing charges against Mr. Parker,” wrote Andrew in his June 20 decision. “In short, the court finds there is no abuse of prosecutorial discretion. After considering the seven factors described in CrRLJ 2.1(c), the court concludes the prosecutor’s decision to not file charges is justified. The petition to file a citizen’s complaint against Mr. Parker is denied.”
Parker was the lead detective on a case that charged and convicted former Orcas High School teacher Grellet-Tinner of sexual misconduct with a student in 2016 in San Juan County Superior Court. The charges and conviction were thrown out the following year after a report alleged that Parker was having relations with the same student during the investigation and trial. Parker resigned and moved to Florida in 2016 without facing any criminal charges.
Grellet-Tinner sought to charge Parker with the gross misdemeanors of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant and obstructing a law enforcement officer when Parker signed a voluntary witness statement to Skagit County Sheriff’s Office (the third party that investigated Parker’s relationship with the victim) on Aug. 8, 2016. In the document, Parker stated he had never had any type of relationship – physical, sexual or emotional – with the victim involved in Grellet-Tinner’s case. Investigators later concluded Parker had an inappropriate relationship with the victim.
In 2017, the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges against Parker. In an April 22 edition of the Seattle Times, Gaylord and the Skagit prosecutor blamed each other for not filing charges.
Grellet-Tinner’s attorney Nick Power says Andrew’s decision shows that “politics have overtaken the justice system in San Juan County.”
“They let a dirty cop who intentionally tried to obstruct an internal investigation go. Why? They let a dirty cop go who perjured himself go. Why?” wrote Power to the Journal. “I will continue to appeal this decision on behalf of my client until Mr. Parker is brought to justice and account for his criminal transgressions. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.”
Power is running for the position of San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney in this November’s election against Randy Gaylord, who has held the position since 1995.
In April 2017, Power wrote in a press release that Grellet-Tinner intended to seek a $10 million lawsuit against the San Juan County Prosecutor’s Office. Power has yet to file a lawsuit.
In his ruling, Andrew noted that a possible conviction in a criminal trial could sway the tort claim, which is the first step to filing a lawsuit against the county.
In his ruling, Andrew wrote, “Presumably the pending tort claim against the county skews the petitioner’s judgment. Mr. Parker’s conviction would benefit the petitioner as plaintiff in the tort lawsuit. This motive is improper.”
According to the prosecutor’s office, other “complexities” were also considered by the court, including the long delay since the incident and Parker’s current residency in Florida, which could make it difficult for Parker to return to the islands for court.
“San Juan County has never extradited from another state on a misdemeanor charge, not even from Oregon or Idaho,” Gaylord said.