COLFAX — Attorneys and witnesses presented details Tuesday about the night a Washington State University student alleged she was sexually assaulted by a former Pullman Police Department officer.
Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy and defense attorney Roger Sandberg made opening statements during the first day of Dan Hargraves’ jury trial in Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax.
Hargraves, a former Pullman Police Department sergeant, is accused of custodial sexual misconduct while with the freshman student who, in order to avoid arrest, was allegedly coerced into performing oral sex on Hargraves while she was intoxicated. Hargraves was a 19-year veteran of the Pullman Police Department when he was arrested Oct. 30 after a nearly six-month Washington State Patrol investigation that began in April 2018.
“In a way, this is a case about silence,” Tracy said during his opening statement.
Tracy used maps of the WSU campus and times gathered from cellphone data and surveillance footage to describe what allegedly happened late March 30 and into the early hours of March 31.
After a night of drinking at several locations around the WSU campus, Tracy said, the underage woman was contacted by police three times for appearing intoxicated. She was contacted by Hargraves first, then by WSU Police Department Sgt. Matt Kuhrt, and again by Hargraves.
After Kuhrt instructed her to go into her dorm, Hargraves spoke with Kuhrt about the woman, then allegedly drove to her dorm where he spotted her outside.
For approximately the next hour, Tracy said there were unanswered texts and calls on her cellphone. He also said Hargraves during this time did not respond to an emergency call near downtown Pullman. It is during this time, Tracy said, that Hargraves placed her in his patrol car and took her phone.
The woman allegedly pleaded with Hargraves while in his car and said she would do anything not to be arrested.
According to Tracy, Hargraves responded: “Anything? What would you do?”
Tracy said he allegedly took her to Reaney Park where she performed oral sex on Hargraves.
Tracy said Hargraves did not turn on his body camera and did not inform dispatch he was taking her.
Three of her friends took the witness stand to describe that night after Hargraves allegedly dropped the woman off at their dormitory. Her friends said the alleged victim was crying hysterically and that she said a cop raped her in his car. One of her friends put the woman’s clothes in a plastic bag to give to the police later.
Sandberg said the state of the victim’s mind that night leaves too much doubt about the alleged events.
Sandberg said she was so intoxicated when she was stopped by Kuhrt that she could not remember where her dorm was, even though she was standing in front of it.
He also said the woman during the investigation could not remember being contacted by Kuhrt at all.
“That’s the memory we have to rely on in this case,” Sandberg said.
He said there is no evidence for the alleged incident in Reaney Park other than her statement, and she does not remember performing oral sex.
Tracy said investigators found evidence of sperm on her sleeve that matched Hargraves’s DNA. Sandberg disputed this and said there were traces of DNA from other individuals in addition to Hargraves’s, and DNA can be left through a variety of ways such as simply touching.
A Washington State Patrol detective and a former police officer who specializes in extracting data from cellphones also described their role in acquiring evidence form the woman’s phone.
The trial continues today at 9 a.m.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to email@example.com.