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Ex-Pasco cop denies sexual contact with woman

By Kristin M. Kraemer Tri-City Herald

Richard J. Aguirre told detectives he did not have any sexual contact with a woman at his home after a night of partying in November 2014.

“There’s nothing that I ever believe would lead up to these accusations,” he said.

Aguirre, who was a Pasco police officer at the time, sat down with detectives a week after the allegations surfaced to give his side of the story.

The audio recording of his interview was played for jurors Tuesday in his Franklin County Superior Court rape trial.

Aguirre said when he got off work that Friday night, he met up with the woman for dinner at a Kennewick restaurant. They were joined by the woman’s male cousin and his wife.

From there, the group went to a sports bar to play pool and later to a downtown Kennewick nightclub.

They all drank over the course of the night, including the woman who had four mixed drinks and three shots. Aguirre noted that the woman, who was in her 20s, could hold her liquor given her slight stature.

However, she still was too intoxicated to drive home to Yakima County, so she spent the night with Aguirre at his Pasco home.

The woman, who has known Aguirre her entire life, previously told jurors that the two of them had shared a bed a couple of times before, but they never had a sexual relationship.

The woman is not named under a Herald policy not to identify people who report being sexually assaulted.

Aguirre said he remembered everything that happened, even though he had a lot more to drink than usual.

He claimed that once in bed, the woman was “uncomfortably” cuddling him but he fell asleep. He denied kissing her on the mouth.

Aguirre said he woke up when the woman put her hand on his face and asked who he was. He gave his name, then she freaked out, grabbed her cellphone, and ran out of the house wearing just a T-shirt and undergarments.

Asked if he had sex with the woman, Aguirre said “no” and went into detail about how he knows his body and it usually tells him the next morning when he has been sexually active.

Aguirre, 52, is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with third-degree rape and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.

The woman testified Monday that she passed out in Aguirre’s bed and woke to him touching, kissing and sexually assaulting her. She said she “told him to stop” and ran outside to call a former lover for help.

Ethan Smith, a forensic scientist who specializes in DNA, said tests on the woman’s underwear turned up areas of semen and the enzyme found in saliva.

Smith, who works out of the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in Cheney, said the DNA matched three reference samples submitted by detectives. One of those was Aguirre’s.

However, Donald Riley, a DNA consultant for the defense, disputed the scientist’s findings and conclusions.

Riley said he never talked to Smith on this case, but reviewed his bench notes and concluded that there may have been transfer between the underwear and the DNA reference samples in the state lab.

He said he has questioned the state lab’s protocols for years, and noted that in this particular case the scientist listed working with the key items on the same day.

Deputy Prosecutor Frank Jenny asked Riley how he is so sure there was cross-contamination.

“I know the procedures that were done,” Riley said. “I’ve been reviewing these bench notes for about 30 years, so I simply can’t rule (that) out. And I do believe that (Smith) had the DNA right there near the evidence sample.”

The prosecution anticipates wrapping up its case the morning of July 13.

Lawyer John Henry Browne said Tuesday that the defense team has not decided whether Aguirre is going to testify.

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