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Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Community Detox leader accused of assaulting woman outside bar

The executive director of a substance abuse recovery organization is suspected of being drunk, grabbing a woman outside of a Liberty Lake bar earlier this month and pinning her against a car.

The woman told police she met Jon D. Schlenske, 41, executive director of Spokane Treatment and Recovery Services, in the bar and accepted his offer of a ride home because she was drunk. The woman said Schlenske grabbed her arms and held them above her head while backing her against his SUV in the parking lot of True Legends Bar and Grill on Harvard Road.

She told police that she pushed him away, but then got in his car anyway because he is much larger than she is and she was afraid of him, according to court documents that outline Schlenske’s arrest.

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee, who represents Schlenske, said he has been in contact with prosecutors and a felony charge of unlawful imprisonment has been dropped and that a misdemeanor assault charge may also be dropped. He said his client does not plan to be in court for a scheduled arraignment Monday that still appears on the court calendar. Calls to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office about the status of the case were not returned Friday afternoon.

“I think there’s a misunderstanding that occurred here,” he said.

Bugbee said he hired a private investigator who spoke to the bar manager. The manager told the investigator that the two had been friendly with each other inside the bar and when he saw them in the parking lot he thought they were making out, Bugbee said.

“There’s another side to this story,” Bugbee said.

When the woman spoke to police, however, she told them that Schlenske did not try to kiss her. She said he got mad and became aggressive.

Community Detox Services recently changed its name to Spokane Treatment and Recovery Services. It is a nonprofit organization that receives more than $1.5 million in local government contracts, including with Spokane County, to provide drug and alcohol treatment to people with addiction. Schlenske has worked at the organization for 13 years and became executive director last year after the previous director died.

Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke said he had been informed of the arrest, which he called “extremely unfortunate.” He said the county will not involve itself in the issue unless it affects the organization’s ability to meet its contractual obligations.

Mielke praised the work that Schlenske has done at Community Detox.

“He’s somebody that’s been very dynamic, an out-of-the box thinker when it comes to treatment programs,” Mielke said.

Bugbee said Schlenske has been having problems in his personal life.

“He had an emotional breakdown because of personal issues he and his family have been dealing with the past two years,” he said.

Police officers said Schlenske was staggering and obviously drunk when they approached him in the gas station parking lot across from the bar. Both he and the woman initially said nothing had happened and Schlenske said the two were on a date. He repeatedly begged the officers not to arrest him, saying he was the CEO of Community Detox.

One of the officers offered Schlenske a courtesy ride to a nearby hotel where he was staying. Body camera video shows that as Schlenske was getting in the car he said “Please don’t take me to jail.”

After Liberty Lake police drove Schlenske away, the woman told another officer that Schlenske had assaulted her. A witness corroborated her statement.

Schlenske was then arrested in front of the hotel he was staying in, and said over and over again: “I didn’t do anything wrong.” He refused repeated commands to get back into the police car until the officer persuaded him to comply.

Body camera videos show that Schlenske spent much of the trip to the Spokane County Jail shouting at police Officer Jeff Jones. He repeatedly said he didn’t do anything, and said he wanted to kill himself.Using profanity, Schlenske told the officer that the officer had no idea what Schlenske was “going to do to you.” When Schlenske arrived at the jail he was argumentative with corrections staff.

Liberty Lake police Chief Brian Asmus said that after officers left the jail they received a phone call informing them that Schlenske had “failed” the booking process and became so unruly that he was put in a restraint chair.

Bugbee said his client immediately reported the incident to the board of directors that oversees the nonprofit. “Every one of them unanimously supported him,” he said.

Board director Jean Kindem said the board did not feel that any action was necessary.

“We have complete faith in Jon,” she said, adding that she believed all charges have been dropped.

Kindem praised the work that Schlenske has been doing to expand services available to those with addictions and mental illness.

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