Panel ap­proves in­ves­ti­ga­tion into rape al­le­ga­tion against Fain

Tri-City Herald - - Obituaries/news - BY RACHEL LA CORTE

A Se­nate com­mit­tee on Thurs­day ap­proved a bi­par­ti­san rec­om­men­da­tion for an out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a rape al­le­ga­tion made against state Sen. Joe Fain.

The cham­ber’s Fa­cil­i­ties and Op­er­a­tions Com­mit­tee unan­i­mously ap­proved the de­ci­sion, which im­posed a re­port dead­line of Dec. 31, though of­fi­cials said they would like it by Dec. 14 if pos­si­ble.

Se­nate lead­ers said they may re-eval­u­ate their de­ci­sion if the Auburn Repub­li­can loses his elec­tion in the com­ing days. After vote tal­lies in King County were up­dated Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Fain was trail­ing his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Mona Das, by 206 votes. More votes will be posted Fri­day af­ter­noon. A re­count in the race will be trig­gered if the fi­nal tally is less than one half of one per­cent and also less than 2,000 votes.

In Septem­ber, Seattle res­i­dent Can­dace Faber tweeted that Fain raped her in 2007, on the night she grad­u­ated from Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Fain, who has de­nied the al­le­ga­tion, was not in of­fice at the time of the al­leged as­sault. Faber said she was in­spired to pub­licly speak out as she watched the tele­vised al­le­ga­tions against Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh.

In an email, Faber said she was glad to hear that the Se­nate was tak­ing steps to in­ves­ti­gate, but she said that re­gard­less of whether or not Fain is re-elected, “this ex­pe­ri­ence has made it clear that we do not have an ad­e­quate process for deal­ing with sex­ual abusers of any form out­side of a crim­i­nal or work­place sit­u­a­tion.”

In a joint state­ment is­sued after the vote, Demo­cratic Ma­jor­ity Leader Sharon Nel­son and Se­nate Repub­li­can Leader Mark Schoesler said the cham­ber strug­gled with how to re­spond, since the al­le­ga­tion pre-dated Fain’s time in the Leg­is­la­ture.

“We feel that the hir­ing of an in­de­pen­dent third party pro­vides the most po­ten­tial for a fair, non­par­ti­san and com­pre­hen­sive out­come that is sat­is­fac­tory to ev­ery­one in­volved,” they wrote.

Fain, 37, was first elected to the Wash­ing­ton state Se­nate in 2010, three years after the al­leged in­ci­dent. He is cur­rently the state Se­nate mi­nor­ity floor leader.

“While this episode has caused in­cred­i­ble stress and pain for my fam­ily, I have re­peat­edly sought a fair and re­spect­ful process that will al­low me to clear my name and move on,” Fain said in a text mes­sage Thurs­day.

Two other law­mak­ers seek­ing re-elec­tion this year have also had to ad­dress sex­ual mis­con­duct charges. Demo­cratic Rep. David Sawyer lost his Au­gust pri­mary less than two months after an out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that he vi­o­lated the cham­ber’s poli­cies on ha­rass­ment, deco­rum and ethics.

Repub­li­can lead­ers in the House called for Rep. Matt Man­weller to re­sign after The North­west News Net­work re­ported in Septem­ber that a for­mer Idaho high school stu­dent of Man­weller’s said she had a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with him in the 1990s, when she was 17. Man­weller, who was fired from his pro­fes­sor po­si­tion at Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in Au­gust fol­low­ing an out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct, has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions but has said he will fin­ish his term but not serve an­other if re-elected. Man­weller com­fort­ably won his dis­trict with 64 per­cent of the vote, and con­firmed in a text mes­sage Thurs­day that he will serve out the re­minder of his term, which ends Jan. 13.

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