A Clark County senior deputy prosecutor was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 11 in connection with his conduct during a Dec. 5 re-sentencing hearing for convicted child rapist Steven Dillon, according to a personnel letter recently released to The Columbian.
In the letter to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey, his supervisor, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson, wrote that the Prosecuting Attorney's Office is investigating allegations against Harvey of "inappropriate professional conduct and/or violation of county work standards."
Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik said he and Jackson are not at liberty to comment on the investigation because it's a confidential personnel matter. Harvey also has declined to comment.
Dillon was convicted in October 2009 of the second-degree child rape and first-degree kidnapping of a 13-year-old boy in August 2008. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Court of Appeals ruled that the kidnapping conviction should be vacated because the victim willingly went to Dillon's residence in Vancouver before the rape. As a result, Dillon needed to be re-sentenced, which was the purpose of the Dec. 5 hearing.
Court records indicate that two years ago, Harvey had accused Dillon's veteran defense attorney, Jeff Sowder, of assisting Dillon in committing perjury during testimony in September 2011. The testimony was related to whether police investigators performed proper "knock and announce" procedures when they went to Dillon's residence and arrested him on suspicion of raping and kidnapping the 13-year-old.
Harvey filed a motion on Oct. 4, 2011, to disqualify Sowder from representing Dillon, claiming that Sowder was Dillon's uncharged accomplice to Dillon's perjury. Dillon pleaded guilty to second-degree perjury in Dec. 7, 2011, and sentenced to 22 months in prison on the charge.
Golik said Friday that Harvey filed the motion against Sowder without Golik's permission.
"The facts do not support that Mr. Sowder committed a felony (perjury), so I directed (Deputy Prosecutor) Anne Cruser to contact Sowder, and by agreement, to strike the motion and seal it," Golik said.
Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle, who's now re
tired, ordered on Oct. 6, 2011, that Harvey's motion be stricken and sealed in the rape case and the perjury case. The perjury case had been assigned to Wulle, while the rape case was assigned to Judge Rich Melnick.
"I do remember that a hearing was held," Wulle said Friday. "Beyond that, I have no memory of it out of the thousands of cases I heard. I would need access to the court file, which I do not have, as I am no longer a sitting judge."
Golik said striking and sealing court records is permissible when the two parties agree. Harvey, however, argued in a Dec. 5 court filing that notice of hearing to seal court records was never given to the rape victim, as required by court rules. The court records in the rape case have since been unsealed.
Dec. 5 hearing
Sowder said he showed up in Melnick's courtroom on Dec. 5 expecting a relatively simple re-sentencing hearing. Instead, Harvey argued that Sowder should be disqualified to represent Dillon in the re-sentencing because he could be a witness in any potential appeal of Dillon's perjury conviction.
Melnick agreed to disqualify Sowder to avoid any potential conflict of interest, but the judge repeatedly said that he found no evidence that Sowder had committed wrongdoing in the case.
Melnick assigned Vancouver attorney Bob Vukanovich to replace Sowder on the case.
Golik would not say what specific conduct at the Dec. 5 hearing prompted the investigation and decision to place Harvey on administrative leave. He said he doesn't have an estimated time of when the investigation will be completed.
Harvey has been with the Prosecuting Attorney's Office since August 1999. His most recent assignment has been with the office's Children's Justice Center. He's also worked in the office's Major Crimes Division. His annual salary is $96,336.