A Spokane police officer has been suspended for having a sexual relationship with a woman days after he took a domestic violence report from her.
Officer Chris Conrath has been suspended for 30 days for conduct unbecoming an officer and having an improper sexual relationship. An internal investigation was completed last week when a review board of fellow officers sustained the allegations and recommended the 30- day suspension.
A complaint was filed in September after the woman’s husband found emails between her and Conrath.
The woman had called police Sept. 7 to report that her husband, whom she had a protection order against, had spit on her and yelled at her. Conrath was sent to take her report. Several hours later, she emailed Conrath to say thank you and Conrath replied that she was welcome.
According to a report written by Lt. Dean Sprague, the woman then emailed Conrath, “I can’t stop thinking about you.” He replied that he was flattered but “any interaction outside my professional capacity would be inappropriate.”
However, Conrath and the woman continued to email each other and Conrath called her several times on his work cellphone. One of the calls, which took place while Conrath was on duty, lasted 15 minutes. He then began communicating with her using his personal cellphone and email.
Conrath told investigators that the calls were work-related and the woman was asking how to get a more stringent protection order and what to do in order to leave her husband.
The next day Conrath drove to meet the woman near the Japanese Gardens at Manito Park. He was on duty and in uniform. Conrath told investigators that the two hugged and kissed. After he got off duty, he met her at the Mirabeau Park Hotel in Spokane Valley.
Her husband discovered their emails a week later and contacted police.
Conrath told investigators when he was interviewed in October that he had already broken off contact with the woman. “I freely recognize that this was my wrongdoing and I made a big mistake and I take responsibility for it,” Conrath said. “This kind of thing would never happen again to me.”
Internal affairs investigators said the woman did not agree to be interviewed.
Sprague wrote in his report that the relationship became inappropriate when the two hugged and kissed at the Japanese Gardens. Sprague wrote at length about the importance of officers not having relationships with victims.
“It is because the victim tends to be vulnerable and looking for anchor points, places to find trust and safety,” he wrote. “A police officer is seen as a figurative and sometimes literal ‘savior.’”
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